In a bid to boost its technical and oversight capacity to hold elections, the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) will be taking on two advisors with experience in running elections in India and Ghana, courtesy of the Commonwealth Secretariat.
This is according to Chairperson of GECOM, Retired Justice Claudette Singh, during a press briefing.
She explained that the two men will serve as Senior Electoral Advisors to herself and the Secretariat.
The advisors are Dr Kwadwo Afari-Gyan and Dr Syed Nasim Ahmad Zaidi. Dr Afari-Gyan is a Ghanaian academic, political scientist and experienced election administrator who holds a PhD in Political Science. It is understood that he was Chairman of the Electoral Commission of Ghana from 1993 to 2015.
According to his Ghanaian Alma matter, he also graduated from the University of Ghana in 1967 with a BA Degree in Philosophy. He went on to attain a Master of Arts (MA) degree in African Politics in 1969 from the same university. He also studied in the United States where he was awarded a PhD in Political Science from the University of California, Santa Barbara in 1974.
Meanwhile, he will be joined by Dr Zaidi, who previously served as 20th Chief Election Commissioner of India. He is also a retired Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer and has a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from Harvard.
He has also served as the Director-General of Civil Aviation and as a Permanent Representative of India on the council of International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). This was before his stint as India’s Election Commissioner and Chief Election Commissioner.
“These two gentlemen will be here from early January. They will be advisors to me and to the Commission as a whole. They will also oversee the elections,” Justice Singh explained to the media.
Asked to clarify the Chair’s statement that the men would be overseeing the elections, Chief Elections Officer Keith Lowenfield explained their terms of reference. He made it clear that the men are only there in an advisory capacity and that GECOM would continue to discharge its responsibilities.
“In no way is the Commission giving up our identity, our legal rights. These advisors are here based on the vast experience they have garnered over the years. They will provide to madam Chair, and at other times to the Secretariat, their experiences in best practices that they would have provided for their own countries in the past”.
GECOM had previously announced it would be getting assistance from Jean-Pierre Kingsley, a Canadian elections expert. According to Justice Singh, GECOM is also expecting Kingsley’s arrival in January.