Government distances itself for revoking appointments of returning officers by STAFF WRITER

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ST. GEORGE’S, Grenada, Feb 21, CMC – The ruling New National Party (NNP) government Tuesday distanced itself from the decision of the Governor General Dame Cecile La Grenade to revoke the appointment of seven returning officers.
Health Minister Nicholas Steele, speaking to reporters after the weekly Cabinet meeting here, said that age and current location of residency were among the reasons for revoking the appointment of the seven returning officers who are assigned to the Parliamentary Elections Office.
“Some of them have gone past retirement age while some are no longer living in the constituency in which they are the returning officer and that is in direction contravention to the regulation,” said Steele.
While he did not provide details as to the reasons why the returning officers, who are normally offered annual contracts, Steele said that the Governor General is the one who made the decision in her own deliberate judgement.
‘For now this power resides with the her, the law gives her that power,” said Steele, who used the opportunity to point out that the failed Elections and Boundaries Commission bill in the recent referendum could have remove such power from the head of state and place it in the hands of the Commission.
“That is why we felt it’s one of the bills which should have been supported in the referendum but it received the no vote as were being push by the members of the Opposition,” he said, while confirming that the Keith Mitchell government respects the decision of Dame Cecile.
The Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC) has been reliably informed that most of the returning officers, whose appointments were revoked are in the 70s and one if 80 years old.
Earlier, the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) said it plans to stage protest action here on Wednesday after the Supervisor of Elections, Alex Phillip, had confirmed that the seven returning officers had their appointments revoked by the Governor General.
NDC Public Relations Officer, Randall Robinson, said that the party is planning a three hour protest march and was urging Grenadians to come out in support.
The NDC is describing the decision to revoke the appointments as part of a plan by the NNP to rig the upcoming general elections which is constitutionally due no later than May 2018, but widely expected to be held later this year.
“The NDC sees this as a vulgar attempt to rig the election process and ultimately steal the election, bearing in mind NNP’s defeat in the Referendum and the results of the recently conducted polls which showed that the NNP party is losing grounds rapidly,” the NDC said.
“We need every patriotic Grenadian to come out in support of the march and show their support for an independent elections office, free of political interference. For love of country, share this as far and wide as possible and stand in defence of democracy,” said the message posted on the social website Facebook and WhatsApp with the hashtag, “Resist now.”
Robinson would not divulge who conducted the polls, saying “we are keeping that to ourselves,” he responded.
The last general election was held here on 19th February 2013, with the NNP winning all 15 seats at stake.

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