MEMBERS of A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) have to understand that the time is long gone when its members can dictate the internal actions that the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) should employ to enhance the entity’s effectiveness and efficiency in order to fulfil its constitutional mandate.
This was posited in a letter by People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) nominated GECOM Commissioner, Clement Rohee, as he addressed the contention against the creation of the temporary position of an “Operations Coordinator.”
In his letter, Rohee accused APNU-nominated GECOM Commissioner Vincent Alexander of seeking to continue to try and dictate how GECOM should conduct its internal staffing arrangements, similar to how the situation was handled in 2018 as it relates to the hiring of Roxanne Myers over Vishnu Persaud as the Deputy Chief Elections Officer (DCEO).
Persaud, who is the current Chief Elections Officer (CEO), had won a lawsuit in 2018 against Alexander for the defamation of his character, when Alexander disparaged his qualifications to prop up APNU’s defence for Myers to be appointed to the post of DCEO, even though she scored lower than Persaud in the evaluation process during the interview.
In June 2022, the Court of Appeal ruled that Alexander had to pay $2.5 million to Persaud, as ruled in the High Court. The court also ordered that Alexander pay costs to Persaud in the sum of $150,000.
Alexander and other APNU-nominated GECOM Commissioners are currently objecting to approval for the secondment of GECOM IT Manager, Aneal Giddings, to the Operations Department of the Commission’s Secretariat, as an ‘Operations Coordinator’ to assist with the day-to-day implementation and evaluation of the statutory and administrative tasks delineated in the work plan for the conduct of Local Government Elections (LGEs).
After Persaud made a request to the GECOM Chair, Justice (ret’d) Claudette Singh, for the temporary change, the chair gave the go-ahead.
“Mr Alexander consistently fails to make the distinction between policy decisions made at statutory meetings of GECOM and internal administrative matters in relation [to] staff at GECOM’s Secretariat, consistent with the organization’s constitutional responsibilities,” Rohee pointed out in his letter.
“Mr Vincent Alexander sought to dictate not only how GECOM should conduct its internal staffing arrangements, but to [also] deny the chair’s role in supporting a legitimate recommendation from Vishnu Persaud, GECOM’s CEO, to assign acting responsibilities to senior staffers. In others words, based on his January 20, 2023 claim, ‘GECOM Chair goes it alone … Alexander wants to run GECOM from whatever limb he may be perched on’.”
As it relates to the “false flag” raised by Alexander, in a statement issued by GECOM on Friday last, the commission made it clear that the chair was in no way ‘creating any new position; nor was any substantive appointment being done to fill a vacant position’.
The statement also noted that there exists precedence at the commission where staff are seconded to fill posts, and in one case even appointed, without the knowledge and approval of the commission.’
An investigation by the Ethnic Relations Commission (ERC) found that Persaud, in 2018, was the first candidate in the history of GECOM who had obtained the highest score and had not been appointed to the DCEO position.
“Mention must be made of Alexander and his comrades’ questionable role in the appointment of Roxanne Myers over Persaud, referencing her “superior qualifications and potential to perform,” as well [as] their reference to the undisclosed ‘Sandra Jones Report’ and ‘GECOM’s Policy on Employment Practices. Those inaccuracies were brought to light during an investigation by an Ethnic Relations Commission (ERC) sub-committee,” Rohee noted.
Persaud was again not supported by the three APNU-nominated GECOM Commissioners in 2021, when he applied for the CEO post, to which he was later appointed.
“It is apposite to recall the unproven allegations Alexander had expressed publicly about Vishnu Persaud, who had applied for the job as CEO at GECOM,” Rohee reminded.
“Alexander and his two political siblings operate as though nothing has changed since August 2020. They conveniently overlook the political handlers’ transgressions they had either stoutly defended or remained silent about during the December 2019 to August 2020 constitutional and electoral travails the people of Guyana experienced as a result of the dirty tricks played by those ensconced at Congress Place,” Rohee concluded.