by Linda Straker
Governor-General Dame Cécile La Grenade has appointed 8 new returning officers to replace the persons whose contracts were not renewed. Their appointment came into effect as of 1 March 2017.
A replacement has yet to be decided for Deputy Supervisor of Elections, Ada Holder, who resigned from her post after the letters of dismissal were presented to the Returning Officers, some of whom were serving for more than 25 years.
The new appointments are:
||St Andrew South East
||St Andrew South West
|Evan George Matthew Bhola
||St Andrew North East
||St Andrew North West
||St George South East
|Jean Catherine Hamlet
||St Patrick East
Alex Phillip, Supervisor of Elections, said that all officers have signed the contractual arrangement with the Office of the Governor General. “All of them officially began duties on March 01st and will be engaging in training very shortly. I must also say that most of them are not new to the work of the electoral process because they have engaged in one form or the other in electoral work previously,” he said.
Last week when news broke that the Dame Cécile had terminated the contracts of several returning officers, the main opposition party, National Democratic Congress (NDC), marched and picketed the Parliamentary Elections Office to protest the action. They believe that it is a strategy by the ruling New National Party (NNP) to rig the upcoming general election, which is constitutionally due by mid-2018.
No reason was provided to the media from the Office of the Governor General, but Minister Nickolas Steele told the media during the weekly post cabinet news conference, that age of the returning officers and place of residency were among the reasons for severing ties, as most of whom were between the ages of 70 and 80.