By Mikaila Prince
Chief Elections Officer (CEO), Keith Lowenfield, has yet again refused to submit his report of the recount results, thereby disregarding what was touted as a final opportunity given to him by the Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), Justice (ret’d) Claudette Singh, to do so.
On Monday, the Chairman had ruled that failure to effectively execute this instruction would result in Lowenfield’s deputy, Roxanne Myers, being tasked with submitting the report instead.
Lowenfield’s deadline for submission was 2pm yesterday to be considered before a GECOM meeting that was scheduled for 2:30pm. Yesterday, however, Lowenfield walked out of the meeting without submitting the report. The three government- nominated commissioners – Vincent Alexander, Charles Corbin and Desmond Trotman – also walked out of the meeting.
Speaking to the media on the outskirts of the GECOM Kingston office yesterday, the three Commissioners had given the impression that the meeting had been suspended as a consequence of an application being filed against GECOM in the High Court by a Coalition supporter. This application seeks to force GECOM to rely on nothing but the ten (administrative regions) March 13 district declarations, which were on Monday deemed invalid by the GECOM Chair along with the reports submitted by Lowenfield which contained figures used from those struck-out declarations.
“We were advised, informed…In my instance when I arrived here [was] that a matter had been filed in court. We brought it to the attention of the Chairperson. She has established a pattern, a practice, when matters are filed [that] she does not proceed with the business of the meeting at that particular time. And so against that background, we have not proceeded into any of the substantive issues that were before the meeting today,” said Alexander.
Opposition-nominated commissioner, Sase Gunraj, on the other hand, shared a different view as to why the meeting had not proceeded as planned. According to Gunraj, at 2:30pm yesterday, when the meeting convened, Lowenfield was asked if he had prepared his report. According to Gunraj, this enquiry was objected to by one of the government commissioners who stood up and said that the CEO did not have to answer to the Commission. This, Gunraj said, was “speedily” followed by government-nominated commissioners opting to walk out of the meeting.
The Gunraj went on to say that when the question was posed for a second time to Lowenfield, he refused to answer, and subsequently walked out of the meeting as well. The opposition-nominated Commissioner was however of the firm belief that no impediment was imposed upon the Elections Commission, its Chairman or its members since no injunction was granted against the proceeding.
The application filed yesterday is scheduled to be heard in the High Court before Chief Justice Roxanne George-Wiltshire today. However, another meeting of the Commission is not likely until after the hearing and judgment of the matter now in the High Court.
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