Thu | Jul 18, 2019

Fisher pushed - EOJ head cites political pressure

Published:Thursday | March 15, 2018 | 12:00 AMLivern Barrett/ Senior Gleaner Writer
Orrette Fisher

The nation's election boss, Orrette Fisher, has resigned from the Electoral Office of Jamaica (EOJ), highlighting "the growing level of political influence affecting the organisation".

Fisher's decision to walk away from his position as acting director of elections comes as the Supreme Court contemplates a legal challenge he filed against the Electoral Commission of Jamaica (ECJ) over its decision to terminate his services. The other objective, he said, was to determine the legitimacy of the one-year contract handed to him last year.

In a letter to employees at the EOJ, a copy of which was obtained by The Gleaner, the outgoing director of elections noted that "the EOJ, as it exists today, is a far cry from the organisation which existed 23 years ago when I joined", adding that most of the changes had been positive.

Fisher said he was unsure whether his objective of highlighting the "growing political influence" at the EOJ would be achieved, but he decided to tender his resignation.

"It is my decision to give up the post, effective today, March 14, 2018," he wrote.

He described the last two years of his tenure as "particularly challenging" but asserted that he tried to support and improve the welfare of employees and be a "positive ambassador for the organisation".

"The past commissioners like Professor Errol Miller and past directors like Mike Sutherland had a vision of where they wanted the organisation to go and played a role in the development process. Despite the difficulties, the external pressures, the EOJ has consistently delivered on its mandate," Fisher wrote.

But what exactly are these pressures? Fisher could not be reached for an explanation as calls to his cell phone went unanswered.

However, a source close to Fisher said that he had been complaining about a certain member of the Electoral Commission of Jamaica.

"He has been rude," the source said of the ECJ member. The accused ECJ member could not be reached immediately.

In the meantime, the commission is to meet on Friday to discuss Fisher's resignation.

In his parting words to staff, Fisher wrote: "I wish to use this opportunity to thank all of you who supported me through the years, and, in particular, over the last five months. Your calls, messages, and emails have meant a lot. For those of you who did not, we are living in a democratic country, and I recognise and accept it as your right."

- Integration Editor Damion Mitchell contributed to this story.