GECOM: DAM­AG­ING GUYANA’S DEMOC­RACY, IN­TEGRITY

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duct of the May 2015 elec­tions. Per­sons would re­call that the APNU was de­clared the ‘win­ner’ by a very small margin.

In most other democ­ra­cies in the world, a re­count would have been au­to­matic. GECOM de­nied the re­quested re­count. Even in Re­gion 8, where a small amount of votes had to be counted, the PPP/C’s re­quest for a re­count of the votes there, where it ‘lost’ the Par­lia­men­tary seat by one vote, was de­nied.

The PPP/C, in a meet­ing with GECOM be­fore the dec­la­ra­tion of the results, asked that at least twenty- two ( 22) boxes be re­counted. This would have taken about two hours at the most. GECOM agreed to do the re­count, but never did.

When the Elec­tions Pe­ti­tion was put in Court one would have ex­pected that GECOM, more than any other body, would have been anx­ious to prove the PPP/C wrong and to vin­di­cate it­self. Not so!

GECOM, through its Chief Elec­tions Of­fi­cer, Mr. Keith Lowen­field, did ev­ery­thing to frus­trate the Court’s hear­ing of the Pe­ti­tion. It went to Court try­ing to get the PPP/C Pe­ti­tion thrown out with­out a hear­ing. This ac­tion alone must raise sus­pi­cions as to why GECOM would not want the Pe­ti­tion to be heard af­ter a re­fusal of a re­count!

In­deed, it is in GECOM’s in­ter­est to have that done. One can­not help ask­ing - what do they have to hide?

As if that alone was not enough to taint GECOM’s rep­u­ta­tion, we see the other charges of mas­sive cor­rup­tion re­port­edly tak­ing place at GECOM.

The me­dia re­cently re­ported on the huge amount of ton­ers brought by GECOM for mil­lions were not used. We have also learnt, via the me­dia, that mil­lions more were spent on ra­dios, again, not used. In these re­ports there is the strong sug­ges- tion of deals and kick­backs. Large amounts of bat­ter­ies which were pur­chased at in­flated prices are still on hand at GECOM.

It i s prob­a­bly why GECOM pushed the Cab­i­net, very late into the elec­tions process, to buy ‘emer­gency’ sup­plies. Just to find out that the things that were brought un­der emer­gency, close to the elec­tions, were not nec­es­sary be­cause they were never used.

The me­dia also re­ported ear­lier of tools and other items brought in large quan­ti­ties at very high prices. Most were never used.

Alarm­ingly, too, of­fi­cials at GECOM are ei­ther hid­ing from the press or re­fus­ing to com­ment.

GECOM staff is one of the best paid in the public ser­vice. One would ex­pect the high­est lev­els of in­tegrity from per­sons work­ing in this vi­tal na­tional in­sti­tu­tion.

Per­sonal and pro­fes­sional in­tegrity are im­por­tant for em­ploy­ment there.

It is, there­fore, un­for­tu­nate to hear that top of­fi­cials names are be­ing im­pli­cated in what ap­pears to be a multi- mil­lion dol­lar fraud. This in­cludes the Chief Elec­tions Of­fi­cer, the Chief Ac­coun­tant and other se­nior staff.

I am sure that the thought go­ing t hrough peo­ple’s minds is that if we find cor­rup­tion of that sort at such an in­sti­tu­tion and at such high lev­els, then it’s not a big step for such per­sons to par­tic­i­pate in rig­ging of elec­tions. This can do real harm to public con­fi­dence. Con­fi­dence of the public is vi­tal for GECOM’s func­tions.

This type of be­hav­ior would put elec­tion results into ques­tion.

Clearly, the na­ture and im­por­tance of GECOM is so great that in­tegrity test­ing must be used on GECOM staff. This is im­por­tant to know so that we have peo­ple with clean hands and per­sons who would act pro­fes­sion­ally at elec­tions time.

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