By Jomo Paul
[www.inewsguyana.com] – While the People’s Progressive Party/Civic has been unrelenting in its call for public vetting of polling day staff, the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) has been equally unyielding in its stance that it will not publicize the persons being employed for the conduct of elections.
PPP General Secretary Clement Rohee at a Monday March 23 news conference labelled GECOM’s refusal as “sinister and undemocratic.”
It should be noted that the PPP has been the lone campaigner in its calls for public vetting of potential polling day staff.
Rohee was adamant that the vetting should be seen as a good thing, since these very individuals will be entrusted with the responsibility of delivering free and fair elections come May 11.
“History has proven world over, that polling day staff has a significant impact on the transparency and integrity of the electoral process, hence, much emphasis must be placed on recruiting experienced, qualified and neutral persons to fill these positions through a transparent process, a process that involves the electorate, through public vetting will only serve to boost confidence in the system. We have seen in 2011 the unprofessional and biased acts by a few presiding and assistant presiding officers towards PPP supporters polling agents and candidates especially in Georgetown,” Rohee lamented.
However, when contacted by iNews, GECOM’s Deputy Chief Elections Officer, Vishnu Persaud affirmed that the Commission will not yield to fancies of the PPP on this issue.
GECOM officials have previously said that the public vetting of its staff would be impractical. Persaud explained it is not something that is done in other democracies the world over.
However, an informed elections specialist later told iNews that given the political climate in Guyana, it would be unwise for GECOM to publish the names of polling day staff.
It was explained that if GECOM should go ahead with such a task, it would run the risk of those persons being methodically targeted by political parties.
Consequences of such would be intimidated persons working at polling stations and persons refusing to turn up to work on polling day both of which would have damaging ripple effects on the conduct of the May 11 elections.