By Shikema Dey
Up to press time, the country was left at a standstill as no official word had emerged from Chair of the Guyana Election Commission (GECOM) Ret’d Justice, Claudette Singh on her next move after Chief Elections Officer (CEO), Keith Lowenfield presented yet again, another final report containing falsified figures.
The CEO was expected to present himself at the GECOM meeting on Saturday at 11am. However, he along with three government-nominated Commissioners, Vincent Alexander, Charles Corbin and Desmond Trotman, were a no show.
What Lowenfield did was send his report to the Commission with someone containing the false figures including the fraudulent declarations made by controversial District Four Returning Officer, Clairmont Mingo.
That report stole the rightful win from the Opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP) and passed it to the incumbent A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) Coalition.
His actions according to one Commissioner, Sase Gunraj, represented “an eye pass” to the Commission and the nation at large. Gunraj had told the media that a decision from the Chair on the way
forward would be made within 24 hours; however, up to press time, Justice Singh has not released any statement spelling out her next move. The Commission is expected to meet today at 10am.
A slew of statements then emerged from both regional and international stakeholders demanding that the CEO, whose actions were deemed insubordinate, be removed from his post and a replacement be installed so that the country could see an end to the four month long electoral process.
That right rests with the GECOM Chair who can remove Lowenfield from his statutory position, pursuant to Article 161(a)(1) of the Constitution. It stipulates that the “Elections Commission shall be responsible for the efficient functioning of the Secretariat of the Commission, which shall comprise the officers and employees of the Commission, and for the appointment of all the staff to the offices thereof inclusive of all temporary staff, recruited for the purposes of boundary demarcation, registration of persons and elections and shall have the power to remove and to exercise disciplinary control over such staff.”
An “election officer” the Constitution spelt out, can be the Chief Elections Officer, the Deputy Chief Elections Officer, a returning officer, a deputy returning officer, an election clerk, a presiding officer, an assistant presiding officer along with a poll clerk and others.
With the Constitution making it clear that the CEO can be lawfully removed by the Chair, all eyes are now on Justice Singh to see whether due action would be taken.
Attorney-at-law Sanjeev Datadin joined calls for the CEO to be removed and explained to Kaieteur News that Lowenfield can be fired with immediate effect and with due cause as per his contractual agreement with GECOM. He stated that the CEO’s action of producing three consecutive reports using fraudulent figures is enough justification for him to be removed and another CEO appointed to carry out the statutory duties he continues to disregard.
Lowenfield in his new report, claimed that a total of 475,118 valid votes were cast in the March 2, 2020 General and Regional Elections; however, the recount shows that a total of 460,352 valid votes were cast. On his newest calculation of the votes, the incumbent Coalition got 236,777 valid votes while the Opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP) attained 229,330 valid votes with 5,090 going to the tri-party joinder: A New and United Guyana (ANUG), The Liberty and Justice Party (LJP) and The New Movement (TNM). Those figures would give the Coalition the 33 majority seating in Parliament with 31 going the PPP and the remainder to the tri-party joinder.
The accurate recount figures place the win with the Opposition with a total of 233,336 valid votes while the coalition trailed behind with 217,920 valid votes and the remaining 5,214 went to the joiner parties. With the recount numbers, the PPP would be positioned for 33 seats in Parliament, while 31 went to the Coalition and remainder to the joined parties.
Neither the Constitution nor the election laws make any provision for Lowenfield to subtract and/or add votes at his will which is what was done in each of the reports he submitted.
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