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Elections chief ousted for cheating in 2011

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The head of Guyana’s elections commission has been sacked for deliberately trying to fudge the figures to show that the governing People’s Progressive Party (PPP) had won a majority of seats in the late 2011 general elections.

Gocool Boodhoo who was chief elections officer for the past three successive polls was sent packing following a lengthy meeting of the commission late Tuesday.

The meeting was called specifically to deal with allegations that he had deliberately used the wrong formula to show that the PPP had won a majority of the 65 house seats when it fact the corrected final tally showed that the two opposition parties had in fact gained a one-seat majority in parliament as is still the case today.

Boodhoo has denied the charges, calling it a genuine mistake but opposition Commissioner Vincent Alexander, his two colleagues and Commission Chairman Steve Surujbally all voted to send him home, contending that he knew better as the institutional memory of the agency that oversees all elections in the country.

The high court had also recently dismissed an application by Boodhoo to prevent his firing.

The three PPP representatives on the commission voted to keep Boodhoo, saying they believed he had made a simple mistake. The PPP had won just over 48 percent of the votes in the November 2011 elections but Boodhoo’s calculations would have showed that it was nevertheless entitled to more than 50 percent of the seats, a calculation Alexander called bizarre.

“There were no miscalculations or mistakes. There was a change in formula and the protocol for working out the allocation of seats. How could the chief election officer of three elections not know that how to calculate the value of a seat?” Alexander said.

The current parliamentary composition has made for serious deadlock as President Donald Ramotar has persistently refused to assent to bills brought by opposition legislators.

Updated 9:54 am, July 22, 2013:
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