Aug 06, 2013 News Comments Off on Boodoo’s responses to raised concerns often lacked credibility – GECOM Chairman
Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), Dr. Steve Surujbally, is stressing his integrity, as the fallout continues from the non-renewal of the contract of the Chief Elections Officer, Gocool Boodoo.
Opposition members of GECOM, which oversees the holding of elections in Guyana, have been dead set against the re-hiring of Boodoo, whose contract expired earlier this year.
Boodoo has been accused by Vincent Alexander, a GECOM Commissioner, of attempting to present results which would have given the ruling party a clear majority in the 2011 General and Regional Elections.
The People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C), while maintaining the Presidency, went on to lose its control in the National Assembly by one-seat to the Opposition.
Public disclosures that GECOM was on the verge of not renewing Boodoo’s contract had led to a firestorm of accusations and a court case, with Alexander, an Opposition-appointed Commissioner, making startling statements that there may have been a deliberate attempt to present poll results that would give the PPP a clear lead over 50%.
GECOM and Dr. Surujbally, as its Chairman, were drawn into quarrel.
In his first open statement on the issue yesterday, the top official said he remains “impervious and unreceptive to threats and intimidation, and can only stand with fact-based impartiality and with the truth as my shield.”
He said that GECOM’s minutes of its statutory meetings would reflect “issues of concern” raised about Boodoo over time by Commissioners, the responses to which were often found “unacceptable and lacking in credibility”.
Regarding GECOM coming under fire from time to time, Dr. Surujbally noted that he had been accused of being involved in “self-serving deals”, being possibly a “clandestine acolyte” to political parties, trying to protect a mega-salary, “being back home in the bosom of the PNC”, and so on”.
“Over the years at GECOM, I, as Chairman, have become more pachyderm, more accustomed to media onslaught and deprecation, more immure and immune from the scandalous productions, from people who not only do not know the facts on an issue, but who do not care to know. Such persons create myths and legends which later devolve into supposed ‘truths’ and incontrovertible ‘facts’. However, I cannot bow to rumour nor can I allow falsehoods, regardless of how convincing they may sound, to dictate my decisions.”
The official, in the letter, said he mentioned to GECOM Commissioners that it was “quite difficult, displeasing, unfair and even odious to be placed in a position of having to make the final decision about renewing Mr. Boodoo’s contract. I pointed out to the Commissioners that the Boodoo matter should have been an open and shut case. I further stated to them the following: ‘From the evidence known to all, there should be a unanimous decision.”
However, Dr. Surujbally said, it seemed that some Commissioners were unable to rise above political considerations and stand and oppose leaders that have nominated them to the Commission.
“This now leaves the Chairman in the unenviable position of making the deciding vote. Unenviable, because whichever way the decision goes, disapproval and discontent, unrelenting flak, and irresponsible and unjustified abuse will follow. I expressed my disappointment at having to make a deciding vote for the first time in twelve years.”
Surujbally also denied recent accusations that he used GECOM’s vehicles to conduct personal “jaunts” across to neighbouring Brazil and that the records would reflect this.
He also brushed aside allegations by Boodoo over questionable expenses on overseas trips he took, pointing out that these issues were never raised by the Report of the Auditor General.
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