Dozens of Grenadians associated with the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) assembled outside the Parliamentary Elections Office in Archibald Avenue last week Friday as a symbolic protection of the integrity of the office.
The protesters, armed with placards and chanting several messages, gathered at 10.00 a.m. at the office to send a clear message to the Keith Mitchell-led Administration on the sudden resignation of the Acting Supervisor of Elections, Aaron Francois and the transfer of Rupert Mc Burnie as Systems Administrator of the Electronic Voter Registration and Card Issuance System.
NDC Political Leader, Nazim Burke said that Mc Burnie is one of the few people trained by the Organisation of American States (OAS) in systems administration and is highly competent to get the job done and is someone who is well respected.
In speaking to reporters, Burke alleged that Francois had insisted that Mc Burnie be allowed to maintain his position within the Parliamentary Elections Office and that his removal was partly responsible for his (Francois’s) resignation.
“Mr. Francois appears to have decided that to save his professional integrity he’s going to step aside,” he said.
Congress is accusing the Mitchell government of replacing Mc Burnie with an individual whose family members are known to be supporters of the current ruling party.
Burke described as “very disturbing” the developments within the Electoral Office over the past year.
He alluded to the decision of the Cabinet of Ministers to install Internet services in the Parliamentary Elections Offices around the country and to put the Voter Registration System on a shared network with the Office of the Prime Minister.
He charged that the change, which allows the Prime Minister’s Office full access to the voter’s registration system, puts the sitting administration at a gross advantage.
“It gives, in other words the ruling party a distinct political advantage and puts the opposition at a distinct disadvantage, because the person making the decision is also controlling the entire process which should be independent…”, Burke told the media.
He said that the Cabinet has no right to install the Internet and to establish a shared network between the Electoral Office and the Office of the Prime Minister since it will be contrary to Section 35 of the Grenada Constitution.
He was at pains to point out that the Supervisor of Elections is responsible to the Governor-General and no other person.
Burke called on all those who love democracy and despite of political affiliation to come forward and defend the integrity of the Electoral Office.
“Something wrong is happening. Let’s not remain quiet about this,” he urged Grenadians as he announced that Congress would bring the issue to the attention of the Organisation of American States (OS) and other international bodies.