GECOM rescinds appointment of Aneal Giddings as Operations Director

Anneal Giddings

The seconding of Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) Information Technology Manager (IT) Aneal Giddings to the post of Operations Director, was rescinded by GECOM after an intense debate at the level of the commission.

Giddings was already IT Manager when GECOM Chief Elections Officer (CEO) Vishnu Persaud formally requested his secondment to the Operations Department to aid him in the day-to-day administrative running of the secretariat.

The CEO’s memo last year to GECOM Chairperson, Retired Justice Claudette Singh, making this request, has never gone over well with the opposite side of the commission. And matters came to a head during Tuesday’s statutory meeting.

In an interview with this publication, Government-nominated GECOM Commissioner Clement Rohee explained that the matter was raised during the meeting and after hearing all sides, the Chairperson chose to rescind Giddings’ temporary appointment as Operations Director.

“There were arguments back and forth by the two sides, in favour of or against Giddings retaining the position of a logistical coordinator. She listened to the arguments on both sides and that was her decision. My views were the same, that he should retain the position of logistical coordinator, until such time a DCEO is appointed,” Rohee said.

The position will now remain vacant until a new Deputy CEO is appointed. The last person to serve as the substantive DCEO, Roxanne Myers, is among several persons that served within the apparatus of GECOM who has been charged with electoral fraud pertaining to the 2020 General and Regional Elections.

Those before the courts also include former Chief Elections Officer (CEO) Keith Lowenfield, and former Region Four (Demerara-Mahaica) Returning Officer Clairmont Mingo among others.

Last year, GECOM had announced Giddings’ secondment and said that the CEO wrote a memo to the Chair requesting approval to take up the position and assist with the day-to-day implementation and evaluation of the statutory and administrative tasks delineated in the work plan for the conduct of Local Government Elections (LGEs).

“In justifying his request, the CEO noted that, unlike the conduct of General and Regional Elections, which takes place in a disaggregated manner in ten different Electoral Districts, the LGEs will be conducted in eighty Local Authority Areas (LAAs) comprising ten Municipalities and seventy Neighbourhood Democratic Councils (NDCs).”

“The CEO further pointed out that considering (i), the multiplicity of sequential and simultaneous tasks required to be implemented at the Operations level for the LGEs, and (ii) the position of Deputy Chief Elections Officer (DCEO) being vacant, it is of vital importance for a Senior Manager who is au fait with operations management relative to the conduct of elections to be assigned the responsibility of assisting him (CEO) with ensuring that all of the required tasks are efficiently and effectively implemented in accordance with the timelines set out in the work plan for the LGEs,” GECOM further explained.

In this regard, GECOM explained that the Chairman approved the request with the understanding that Giddings would be referred to as ‘Operations Coordinator’ within the Operations Department of the Commission’s Secretariat since he would be responsible for carrying out responsibilities that would normally fall within the list of duties of DCEO. It was also noted that Giddings’ secondment would end once a DCEO was appointed.

“The Chairman gave her approval for the secondment of Mr Giddings with the full knowledge that she (i) was not creating any new position, (ii) was not making an appointment, and (iii) was aware that there is the precedence of staff having been seconded, and in one case even appointed, without the knowledge and approval of the Commission.”

“Further, the Chairman’s approval of the requested secondment was based on the understanding that this would be a temporary arrangement until a suitable candidate is appointed to the position of DCEO. Meanwhile, Mr Giddings is still employed in the substantive position of IT Manager,” GECOM had said.