Jun 21, 2020 News
Chair of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) Justice (ret’d) Claudette Singh, and Chief Elections Officer (CEO) Keith Lowenfield have given conflicting reports on the failure of the CEO to submit his report on the results of the recount last Thursday.
Lowenfield has claimed that by refusing to submit the report on the results, he was acting on the advice of the Chair. However, the Chair is quoted in another section of the media saying that she told Lowenfield to bring the report to the Commission and he didn’t come.
It all started on Thursday when media operatives were camped out at the back of the GECOM headquarters, on Fort Street, Kingston waiting to find out what GECOM would do after receiving Lowenfield’s report.
The CEO was expected to submit the report at or before 1:00 pm, but repeated checks to GECOM indicated that he did not. At 2:15 pm, GECOM’s Public Relations Officer Yolanda Ward told the press in a WhatsApp Facebook group that Lowenfield was restrained from submitting the report by a notice of motion filed in the Appeal Court.
Ward stated that, “A Notice of Motion was filed in the Court of Appeal and served on the Chairperson and CEO. The Notice was served on the CEO before 13:00hrs (deadline for submission of report). The Notice restraints the CEO from ‘complying with the directions of Chairperson’ and as a consequence, a report was not submitted.
The Commission will meet as planned. Decisions on the outcome would be communicated immediately.”
Half an hour later, Commissioners began to exit the GECOM headquarters. It was evident that there was no GECOM meeting to speak of.
At 2:57 pm, Opposition Commissioner Bibi Shadick told reporters that the CEO that did not hand in the report by or before 1:00 pm as he was supposed to. She explained that the claim was that Lowenfield was restrained by the Court, even though no injunction had been granted.
“What Lowenfield was served with,” Shadick said, “was a notice of motion, an application. The Court of Appeal doesn’t grant injunctions. Anyway, the Chairman did not take the report from him. She told him he’s to come to the meeting at 2 o’ clock and say what he wanted to say. ‘Cause he told her he couldn’t have complied.”
Shadick and her colleagues, Vincent Alexander and Sase Gunraj, informed the press of two things. The first was that the CEO did not show up to meet the Commission, and the second is no meeting of the Commission could be convened since no quorum could be had due to two government Commissioners not turning up. Shadick said Charles Corbin claimed he was sick, and that Desmond Trotman said he was threatened and was trying to get security. For there to be a quorum, two Commissioners are needed from both the Government side and Opposition. GECOM was therefore forced to adjourn to 1 pm yesterday, a development informed the media group of at 3:07 pm.
However, 27 minutes later, at 3:34 pm, Ward sent another message to the press: “Please be advised that due to the hearing of the Notice of Appeal tomorrow [Friday] at 13:30hrs, the Commission will no longer meet at 13:00hrs as planned.”
Following the events of that day, the press reported what Ward had said, that Lowenfield refused to submit the report on the basis that the court matter restrained him, despite the fact that the matter did not prevent him at all.
The CEO’s action has been labeled by the President of the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) Nicholas Deygoo-Boyer as a dereliction of duty – the Chamber is an accredited local observer to the 2020 elections.
At 11:26 am yesterday, Ward sent a press release to the WhatsApp group, one which claimed that Lowenfield did not submit his report on the advice of the Chairperson. The release, coming from the CEO himself, stated “Contrary to the numerous articles and opinions published in the media and social platforms, the Chief Election Officer, Mr. Keith Lowenfield has completed the report and was preparing to submit same to the Chairperson by 13:00hrs on 18th June, 2020. However, before he could have done so, he was served by court Marshalls with a‘Notice of Motion’ which was filed in the Court of Appeal.”
The release also claimed that, “In light of the foregoing, the CEO visited the Office of the Chairperson with his report and the ‘Notice of Motion’. It was then that Justice Singh indicated that she was also served with the said document and explained that, “as a former officer of the court’ she could not disregard the ‘Notice of Motion.’
As a consequence, the CEO’s report was not submitted to the Chairperson at that time.”
Upon reading this release, several media operatives took umbrage to Lowenfield insinuating that the media reports were false, when the media had only reported on what GECOM had told them at the time. In response, Ward said, “The information I provided to you on Thursday is what was available to me at that time.”
Meanwhile, the Chair, Justice Singh had furnished an online publication with an exclusive interview. In that interview, Singh said that Lowenfield had gone to her office on Thursday, and had pointed to the notice of motion as grounds for the non-submission of his report. She reportedly told him, after being served herself with a notice, that it was just an application and it was not yet granted.
“He came in and showed me the Motion,” Singh is reported as saying, “As I was reading it, I noticed that it was not granted. It was only an application restraining him from giving me his report. I told him that this (report) is not granted, it’s only an application.”
The Chair also told the publication that she was looking for the date on the Motion but she could not find it.
At that time, Court marshals appeared to serve her the notice, after which she was made to call the Court and was informed that the hearing will be on June 19.
The Chair went on to state “I then told Lowenfield that I am not going to demand or ask him for the report, as a former Judge, I don’t want to trample on someone’s constitutional right. I asked that he take it to the Commission at 2 (pm) and he said okay but he did not come. He came to my office after 1 (PM).”
It is evident that Singh’s statements conflicts with Lowenfield’s account. While Lowenfield claims, in his clarification press release, that his decision not to submit the report was based on Singh’s advice, Singh is saying that she instructed Lowenfield to come to the meeting at 2:00 pm with the report notwithstanding the notice and he still did not show up.
This inconsistency was pointed out to Ward, yesterday, but she could not give clarity, insisting that the press release came directly from the CEO, and that she only acted to disseminate the information. She added that she is not privy to the interview Justice Singh gave to the online publication, and so she could not provide any further clarity on that either.
“I can have a discussion with the Chair and possibly provide details later,” Ward said. Up to press time, no further detail was given.
Jul 06, 2022Kaieteur News- Regal Legends extracted sweet revenge on New York Softball Cricket League (NYSCL) Legends to successfully defend their Independence Cup on Sunday at Baisley Park, Queens, New York. Set...
Kaieteur News– I hate, and I mean the word literally, the sociological vulgarity in this country that race baiting,... more
Freedom of speech is our core value at Kaieteur News. If the letter/e-mail you sent was not published, and you believe that its contents were not libellous, let us know, please contact us by phone or email.
Feel free to send us your comments and/or criticisms.
Contact: 624-6456; 225-8452; 225-8458; 225-8463; 225-8465; 225-8473 or 225-8491.
Or by Email: [email protected] / [email protected]