Jul 28, 2021 News
Kaieteur News – People’s Progressive Party /Civic (PPP/C) Election Commissioners on the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) have proposed the termination of contracts as an alternative to removing Chief Elections Officer, (CEO) Keith Lowenfield, Deputy Chief Elections Officer (DCEO), Roxanne Myers and Region/ District Four Returning Officer, Clairmont Mingo from office.
The PPP/C Commissioners which include attorneys, Bibi Shadick, Sase Gunraj and Manoj Narayan had previously presented motions for the dismissal of the three officers, who are currently facing the courts on electoral fraud charges in relation to the March 2, 2020 Regional and General Elections.
On Tuesday, the Commissioners presented the termination of contracts as an option for the removal of the three top officials during a virtually hosted statutory meeting at GECOM.Speaking with Kaieteur News after the meeting, Shadick explained that the motions for dismissal were amended to add termination of contracts as an alternative for removing the officers from their posts at GECOM. She noted that amendments were approved by the Chairperson (retired) Justice Claudette Singh.
“What happened is when we moved the motions, we were not in possession of the contracts of these three people. We contacted the Human Resources Officer who said that the only contract available was Mingo’s. Lowenfield had filed application to challenge the motion in which he referenced his contract, from that we got a copy of his contract which states that he can be terminated following a notice to the Commission, three months before . We later got Myers contract as well,” explained, Shadick.
The PPP/C Commissioner said that they are exploring all avenues to have the officers removed from the Commission.
“We want them out. We want them to have no other thing to do with GECOM; in fact, we want them to never go back there. Now, the way is paved for one or two things to happen so whether, they have to go by termination of contract or dismissal, either way, we want them gone. They have been too long on the job since the elections, it’s been 17 months, that’s way too long,” Shadick added.
The PPP/C Commissioner noted the next hearing as it relates to the removal of the three officers will likely happen next Tuesday since Commissioner, Gunraj and Narayan are out of the jurisdiction; they are in St. Lucia observing the elections there.
Meanwhile, Shadick said that the A Partnership for National Unity+ Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) Election Commissioners have already indicated their reservations about the move to terminate the contracts.
“Those Commissioners all seem to have questions about our next move but I believe it’s their way of delaying the process,” Shadick said of the Opposition Commissioners. Nevertheless, she noted that the PPP/C is optimistic that the motion to have the officer removed will be quickly discussed and concluded.
Last May, the motions to dismiss Lowenfield, Myers and Mingo were tabled by the PPP/C Commissioners. The motion against Lowenfield outlined that he failed and/or refused and/or neglected to ensure that the process of ascertaining the total number of votes cast in favour of each list of candidates for Elections District Number Four by adding up the votes recorded in the Statements of Poll was done without “inordinate or undue delay.”
Specifically, the motion detailed among other things, what was referred to as Lowenfield’s open defiance of court orders in his “active pursuit to fraudulently declare” the APNU+AFC Coalition as winners of the March 2, 2020 Regional and General Polls.
In a second motion, the PPP/C Commissioners note, inter alia, that the DCEO acted on her own volition when she facilitated a meeting on March 5, 2020, with a candidate of the contesting party, then Minister of Foreign Affairs, Karen Cummings, at the GECOM’s Command Centre at Ashmin’s building.
It noted too, that Myers acted on her own volition when she instructed police officers to remove Commissioner Gunraj, and others from the building on March 5, 2020. This, according to the Commissioners, caused the loss of public confidence in the electoral process.
Meanwhile, as it relates to Mingo, the motion points to his orchestration of the attempt to rig the elections in favour of APNU+AFC. Among other things, the document calling for Mingo’s dismissal notes that without any lawful authority or proper justification or excuse, the Returning Officer deliberately failed, refused and neglected to ascertain the total votes cast in favour of each list in the district by adding up the votes recorded in favour of the list in accordance with the Statements of Poll as is required
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