Ramkarran replaces McDoom on Elections Commission

Stabroek News
August 1, 2000

Senior Counsel Ralph Ramkarran has replaced Moen McDoom SC as one of three government representatives on the Elections Commission. He was sworn in yesterday at the Office of the President and the ceremony was witnessed by Elections Commission chairman, Major General (rtd) Joe Singh. McDoom stood down for reasons of ill health.

Ramkarran previously served as a member of the Elections Commissions which supervised the 1973 and 1992 general elections and the 1994 municipal and local government elections. He also served on the 1997 Elections Commission but resigned when he was named as a PPP/Civic candidate.

Speaking with reporters after he was sworn in, Ramkarran said that while his own view was that the time scale for holding elections by January 17, 2001 was "very tight", he was "sure that the commissioners have been doing their best to meet that deadline but we will have to see how it goes."

Ramkarran was to attend his first meeting of the commission yesterday when the appointment of the Chief Election Officer was due to be finalised. Stabroek News understands that there were five candidates under consideration including Stanley Singh who held the post at the last elections. Among the other four is a former managing director of a local commercial bank.

At yesterday's meeting too, the Commission was due to short-list the applicants for the posts of Registrars for the ten polling districts. The polling districts which coincide with the ten geographical constituencies are based on the administrative regions.

The posts of two deputies to the CEO have been finalised and Calvin Benn and Wilfred Boodhoo are expected to take up these positions shortly. Benn is Deputy CEO with responsibility for logistics and Boodhoo deputy CEO with the mandate for administration. Ganga Persaud who had responsibility for logistics for the 1997 elections has returned to the Ministry of Education from where he had been seconded to the National Registration Centre (NRC).

Stabroek News understands that another long-serving member of the NRC, Albert Henry, who has built up considerable experience in the statutory requirements of the Commission is likely to be considered for the post of Secretary to the Commission.

The structure proposed by the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) which underpins donor assistance to the elections calls for the appointment of a legal officer to deal with the statutory requirements. However, it is likely that the Commission may be persuaded to look at Henry's experience in determining what weight it would attach to legal training.

Meanwhile, Stabroek News has learnt that the Joint International Technical Assessor, Keith Hathaway is in the process of identifying office space and his support staff. Hathaway is required to assess whether the arrangements for the elections are in accordance with internationally accepted standards and to make a determination nine weeks before the elections date whether the state of the preparations at the time could sustain an internationally acceptable election and if not, what additional time would be needed for them to do so. Hathaway's role is also catered for under the MOU which was signed by the government, the Elections Commission and the donor community. (Patrick Denny)

Follow the goings-on in Guyana
in Guyana Today