Dismissal of Presiding Officers Raises Concerns

With elections just a few days away, red flags are once again being raised regarding the dismissal of presiding officers at various polling stations in the constituency of St. David.

THE NEW TODAY understands that approximately six (6) experienced presiding officers were last week Friday told that based on their incompetence, their services were no longer needed.

The main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) has described the sacking of the persons as very “disturbing” especially in light of the general elections being held on Tuesday.

Speculation is rife that the Returning Officer for St. David, Vincent Morain was the one responsible for the dismissal of the returning officers.

Addressing a press conference at the NDC headquarters in St, George’s on Monday, the party’s Chairman, Vincent Roberts questioned whether Morain has the legal authority to hire and fire presiding officers in the various polling areas in the constituency.

Roberts noted the decision taken not to renew the contract of what he referred to as “the more experienced presiding officers” and replacing them with inexperienced individuals who are known and NNP activists.

He strongly condemned the action by Morain, who has served as a returning officer for well over 20 years, to make such a move a mere 10 days ahead of the March 13 elections.

He said that “this vulgar exercise of political manipulation is unacceptable.”

The NDC executive member stated that its concerns on the firing of the returning officers has been brought to the attention of observer missions who are already in Grenada, such as the Organisation of American States (OAS) and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).

In addition, Congress has sent a letter to Supervisor of Elections, Alex Phillip expressing ots concerns on the issue.

Roberts called on the people of St. David to show their disgust with “this interference of the election by coming out on March 13 and voting overwhelmingly in favour of your (NDC) candidate Adrian Thomas.”

He also made a plea to Civil Society and other organisations that are interested in fair play to stand up and speak out against these actions.

A senior official of the Parliamentary Electoral Office has said that new presiding officers can be brought in at any time since they are employed on a contractual basis to work particularly on Election Day.

He said it is not “a guaranteed job” in which the same officers who worked previously, will be recruited to work during general elections, which are constitutionally due every five years.

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