The Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) on Tuesday defended its recruitment policy and indicated that the body has no intention to budge in the face of criticism from the governing Party.
The People’s Progressive Party wants GECOM to publish photographs and names of all of the persons it will be hiring for election day duties so that they could be vetted by the public.
The Elections Commission remains confident in its existing recruitment process and on Tuesday, ten Returning Officers (ROs) were sworn in to assist the Commission in ensuring the efficient conduct of the upcoming general and regional elections.
The ten Returning Officers took their Oath of Office in the presence of GECOM’s Chairman Dr. Steve Surujbally and Chief Elections Officer (CEO) Keith Lowenfield. They were encouraged to ensure that they carry out their functions in accordance with law.
The 10 Returning Officers will manage the GECOM’s operation in the ten administrative regions and report to Commission accordingly.
Lowenfield explained that the officers were apart of training sessions that were done since September 2014 with many of them serving with distinction at past elections.
The Chief Elections Officer boasted that the Returning Officers were familiar with the issues to arise and are equipped to address those issues. GECOM Chairman Dr. Steve Surujbally assured that he ten persons which included two women were the best chosen from those who availed themselves.
These assurances were given minutes after the ruling People’s Progressive Party Civic wrapped up a press conference where General Secretary Clement Rohee criticized the recruitment process.
Rohee reiterated his call for public vetting of polling day staff and said the party was totally against the employment of Information Clerks by GECOM.
To this end, Deputy Chief Elections Officer (DCEO) Vishnu Persaud defended the recruitment policy of the Commission. He told News Source in an invited comment that GECOM’s recruitment process did not lack transparency and encompassed public advertisement of vacancies and training for those shortlisted.
“Against this background we are confident that the persons we have appointed to work on elections day and the persons appointed to work even before are persons that were accurately trained and demonstrated their competence and the same principle we will apply as we move forward,” Persaud explained.
He said in response to the call for public vetting, persons have already indicated that they will not work if that is to be done. “So in effect this can be seen as a disincentive.”
Persaud said past experiences should not negate the necessity of having certain staff on polling day; pointing out that in other countries Information clerks provide a valuable service during elections.
He clarified that GECOM’s voter education has already started with plans to have it intensified in coming weeks. (Kurt Campbell)
Filed: 25th February, 2015