GECOM Chair confirms postponement of LGE 2021

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Justice Claudette Singh

Chairperson of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) Justice Claudette Singh has written to Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs Anil Nandlall, confirming that Local Government Elections cannot be held this year.

“Please be informed that the Guyana Elections Commission is cognizant of the legal requirement that Local Government Elections should be held in 2021. However, since the agency is without a Chief Election Officer who is required by law to manage the operations of the conduct of elections in Guyana; the Commission is unable to have those elections held at this point in time,” the letter outlined.

“As you are aware, the Commission is currently working to conclude the hiring process of the Chief Election Officer and other senior management staff. Please be assured that as Chairperson of the Guyana Elections Commission, I will communicate with you on the timeline at which Local Government Elections could be held when the Chief Election Officer is hired. I thank you for your understanding and patience as we work to resolve this challenge within the shortest time possible,” the GECOM Chair further noted.

The GECOM Chair’s letter was in response to a correspondence dispatched by Nandlall who was seeking information on the electoral body’s readiness to host the polls.

“Please confirm, soonest, that it is impracticable for the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) to comply with the provisions of the Local Authorities (Elections) Act, Chapter 28-05, Laws of Guyana, regarding the holding of an election to elect members of a Local Democratic Organ due in the year 2021, in order for the Minister to take the necessary actions required to postpone the said elections and to perform all acts and do all things consequential thereto as are required by law,” the AG had requested.

The seven-member election commission on Monday interviewed two candidates vying for the post of Chief Elections Officer (CEO): former GECOM Deputy CEO Vishnu Persaud and former Jamaican electoral official Leslie Harrow.

The Commission is expected to meet tomorrow to continue discussions on how the interviews went and make a determination on who is the successful candidate.

Persaud, who was employed as GECOM’s DCEO from 2014 to 2017, was overlooked for appointment when he sought to return to the position in 2018. In fact, his non-appointment sparked controversy and even an investigation by the Ethnic Relations Commission (ERC), which had concluded six months after that he was overlooked and was more qualified than the person who was chosen over him for the position, Roxanne Myers.

On the other hand, news reports in Jamaica revealed that Leslie Harrow was up until May employed as Head of the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) in Jamaica. He previously served in several junior and senior positions at the Electoral Commission of Jamaica over his 18-year tenure there.