Oct 28, 2020 News
Kaieteur News – Commissioners representing the A Partnership National Unity + Alliance For Change are yet to nominate an attorney-at-law to represent the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) and Chief Elections Officer (CEO), Keith Lowenfield in the election petition case.
During last week’s statutory meeting, GECOM had voted and passed a motion for Lowenfield to be assigned a lawyer handpicked by the Commission. The Opposition Commissioners had requested time to select their pick and at the next statutory meeting (yesterday), a final decision would be made.
However, that process has been stalled, as the Opposition Commissioner Vincent Alexander indicated to Kaieteur News that he and the other two Commissioners on his side are still in the process of selecting a counsel.
Government Commissioner Manoj Narayan indicated to Kaieteur News yesterday that on this coming Friday, the decision on who represents GECOM and Lowenfield will be finalized. Commissioner Narayan reminded this publication of his nomination, Dominican Senior Counsel Anthony Astaphan, one of the leading lawyers in the region in election and constitutional matters.
Notably, the motion for the Commission to select Lowenfield’s lawyer did not sit well with executive member of the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) Aubrey Norton, who is of the view that Lowenfield should be allowed to choose his own attorney.
Norton, at a recent media engagement, said that the motion was made in “total contravention of the law.”
“That is like charging Caesar to be tried by Caesar,” Norton told the press, adding that, “If they are allowed to give the CEO one of those PPP attorneys, then they will do everything to ensure that the petition fails. We believe that the CEO must have his own attorney and this thing should go by law.”
Chief Justice (Ag) Roxane George-Wiltshire is expected to conduct a full trial of the two election petitions filed by the main opposition, APNU+AFC; however, this is expected after she hears arguments on preliminary issues raised in the matter on November 24, 2020.
Commissioner Narayan shared a different view, as he cited Section (4) (2) of the National Assembly Validity of Elections Act which deals with elections petitions.
That provision specifically states “…if the petition complains of any act or omission on the part of the Commission, or any member thereof, as is mentioned on Article 162 (1)(b) of the Constitution, the Chief Elections Officer shall, for the purposes of this Act be deemed to be a respondent.”
In essence, the Commissioner’s contention is that since Lowenfield is representing GECOM’s interest in the petition, it is only fair that the entire Commission has a hand in the legal counsel meant to represent them.
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