GECOM scrambling to fill key vacancies five months before elections

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Government Commissioners Desmond Trotman, Vincent Alexander and Charles Corbin

Almost one year after the passage of the No-Confidence Motion (NCM) against the coalition government, the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) is only now scrambling to fill a number of key posts, with only five months remaining before next year’s March 2 polling day.

This is according to Government-nominated Commissioner at GECOM, Vincent Alexander who told reporters, following Tuesday’s three-hour statutory meeting, that they have advanced certain aspects of the Commission’s work.

This, he noted, includes reactivating the work of the admin committee to look at a number of vacancies that have not been filled. These are: a logistics manager, an Assistant Chief Elections Officer, a research person, and someone responsible for voters’ education.

“Obviously, those vacancies have been affecting the capacity of the Secretariat to do its work. The admin committee is scheduled now to meet on Tuesday so we can advance the process of filling those vacancies,” he posited.

From the December 2018 passage of the NCM— which triggered early elections within three months— GECOM has come under heavy criticism for its failure to be in a state of readiness to hold General and Regional Elections.

In fact, in its ruling on the consolidated NCM cases, the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) said that all constitutional actors, including GECOM, must abide by the provisions of the Constitution.

According to Article 106, Cabinet including the President shall resign and call elections within three months of the successful passage of a No-Confidence Motion. This meant elections were due since March 21, 2019. But while the court noted that timeline was on pause as a result of the legal proceedings, its June 18 ruling validating the passage had re-triggered the elections deadline.

However, Alexander explained that the Elections Commission could not have done any work to fill these vacancies since it was without a Chairman for several weeks. However, these vacancies were present since last year and GECOM was only without a Chair for about one month in July.

The CCJ had also ruled in June that the 2017 appointment of then GECOM Chair Retired Justice James Patterson was unconstitutional. This resulted in Justice Patterson’s resignation late June. After several weeks of meetings between President David Granger and Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo and their representatives, current Chair, Retired Justice Claudette Singh, was appointed on July 26.

Meanwhile, he went on to say that the Operations Committee is continuing with its work and will be meeting again on Friday to look at issues relating to the data from the scrapped House-to-House (H2H) Registration.