GECOM likely to print ads for CEO, DCEO by next week

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The Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), which has spent much of the year wrestling with the removal of top employees at the Secretariat, is likely to send out advertisements to fill critical vacancies by next week.

This is according to GECOM Commissioner Bibi Shadick, who revealed to this publication in an invited comment that while they have already drafted the advertisements, a statutory meeting on Tuesday to issue the print order had to be adjourned until Thursday because there was no quorum.

Shadick and her fellow Government-nominated Commissioners – Sase Gunraj and Manoj Narayan – were present during Tuesday’s meeting, chaired by GECOM Chairperson, retired Justice Claudette Singh.

However, Shadick said, Opposition-nominated Commissioner Vincent Alexander was absent from the meeting, and after technical difficulties, his colleague Charles Corbin logged off from the virtual meeting, leaving only Desmond Trotman present.

“We couldn’t even discuss the advertisements, because we did not have a quorum anymore. Trotman was there, and Trotman was hearing and was heard, but the quorum has to have two from their side,” she explained.

“So, what the Chairman in frustration was forced to do was adjourn it until Thursday at 1. Because if a meeting is adjourned because of a lack of a quorum, we can call the meeting for Thursday and make decisions as long as there are four people,” Shadick said.

According to Shadick, those four people can comprise the three-Government nominated GECOM Commissioners and the Chairperson herself. This would remove the necessity of relying on the Opposition-nominated Commissioners for a quorum.

The Commissioner was optimistic that after Thursday’s meeting, the process can move forward and advertisements for the vacant GECOM positions can be printed by next week in all the daily newspapers.

“Once we have made that decision, I doubt it (printing) could be this weekend. It would have to be next week some time. We have asked that they go in all the papers and on the website. Wide coverage. I’m very hopeful that the decision to send the advertisements off to print will be made Thursday,” she said.

The advertisements in question will fill the vacancies caused by the removals of former Chief Elections Officer (CEO) Keith Lowenfield, his former deputy Roxanne Myers and former Returning Officer Clairmont Mingo.

After several delays and legal proceedings, Lowenfield, Myers, and Mingo were on August 12 dismissed from their respective posts at the GECOM following a vote by the seven-member Commission.

In a statement announcing the terminations, which she said came after weeks of deliberation on the motions, the GECOM Chair had indicated that the services of Lowenfield, Myers and Mingo would be terminated effective August 18, 2021, and they would be compensated in accordance with provisions in their contracts.

To this end, Justice Singh disclosed that CEO Lowenfield was dismissed via Clause 9 of his contract, which stipulates that his services can be terminated by giving him three months’ notice, or payment in lieu thereof.

Regarding the DCEO and the RO, their contracts similarly state that the Commission may, at any time, terminate their employment by giving them three months’ notice or payment in lieu thereof.

Gunraj and his fellow Government-nominated Commissioners, Bibi Shadick and Manoj Narayan, on June 1, 2021 had brought motions calling for the dismissal of Lowenfield, Myers and Mingo from GECOM.

The trio are before the courts for a number of electoral charges for their alleged attempts to sway the results of the March 2020 General and Regional Elections in favour of the then ruling A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) Government.