Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) Vishnu Persaud was the first to take the stand at today’s hearing for the Presidential Commission of Inquiry (CoI) into the 2020 General and Regional Elections. During his testimony, Persaud made the startling revelation that surveillance footage of the turbulence that took place at the Ashmins Building during the tabulation of District 4 votes was “wiped clean”.
As he recounted how such a discovery was made, Persaud was keen to provide clarity about the Standard Operating Procedures to be followed pre and post-elections. The CEO said he had examined samples of tabulation sheets, Statements of Poll (SOP), and questions with regard to the appointment of Returning and Deputy Returning officers.
Following this, the commission posed questions about the days of events that unfolded at the Ashmins Building during the tabulation process of District 4. The CEO was also asked about video surveillance of the disturbances since this was his area of responsibility at that time. He recalled that cameras were installed in the building as per the instructions of the Chief Elections Officer at the time, Keith Lowenfield.
After assuming Lowenfield’s post, Persaud said he inquired from staff members about the surveillance footage from the days of the disturbances. This, according to the CEO, was not available.
He further stated, “Nobody seems to know when the cameras were removed, or where the footage might be. And in terms of records, may I venture that when I assumed office… where the computers should have had information in that regard, all of the computers were wiped clean.”
Persaud was also asked about the appointment of Returning Officers and about his relation to former District Four Returning Officer, Clairmont Mingo. Persaud told the commission that he first met Mingo in 2006 and up to his departure from GECOM in 2017.