Please permit me to observe for your readership, the commencement of a long-awaited but necessary intervention, following Chief Justice Roxanne George’s ruling that the SOPs from March 02, 2020, should be handed to the Guyana Police Force and the Director of Public Prosecutions. The move seems to have tipped the tolerance scale informing unison of actions by some Commissioners, while others continue to demonstrate tenacious and emboldened support for those condemned and charged, based on their publicly conducted fraudulent actions.
Of note, however, we are faced with a conundrum that highlights a more deep-seated problem, one which justifies the need for immediate electoral reforms. On one side, PPP Commissioners appointed to the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), have tabled motions representing the boldest moves yet, for the removal of miscreant staff who have publicly violated legal, guiding principles, and accepted norms administered by the Organization. On the other side, are witnessing opposition Commissioners attempting to water down the efforts to disinfect against those that have publicly contributed to heavy loss of confidence in the body.
Specifically, Commission members Sase Gunraj, Bibi Shadick, and Manoj Narayan tabled Motions to have Chief Elections Officer (CEO) Keith Lowenfield, his deputy Roxanne Myers and Region #4 Returning Officer Clairmont Mingo respectively, to be dismissed from the GECOM. These GECOM Commissioners have acted in the interest of our country and in support of upholding genuine democracy. This column has long advocated for the immediate removal of all GECOM Staff found guilty of fraud, while those disrespectful to our Constitution and other supportive legislation must not be allowed to be in public office.
In recently published articles and interviews, Commissioner Gunraj outlined twenty reasons solid grounds why Lowenfield should be dismissed. Aside from these, it is extremely distasteful that the Chairwoman of the Commission had to defend herself and the decisions of the Commission by having legal representation in the High and Appeal Courts in matters against Mr. Lowenfield, while he acted as a Servant under the employ of the GECOM Commission.
It has been correctly argued by many, that given the autonomy and functional responsibility of the Commission for the hiring of Staff in the Institution, the matter should have been overwhelmingly dealt with since the New Government was sworn in. Mr. Lowenfeild’s defiance of the Chairwoman’s instructions in orchestrating his clandestine intent of changing the true result in favor of the APNU/AFC during the process could not have demanded less than immediate sanctions by way of dismissals. These have certainly contributed to a heavy loss of confidence in the body under her watch.
Supporting the above is the total disrespect and arrogance displayed by Chief Elections Officer (CEO) Mr. Lowenfield when he breached his functions, duties, responsibilities, and obligations; as he neglected to ensure adherence to, and compliance with the statuary process outlined in section 84 of the Representation of the People Act. Mr. Mingo whose functions fall under the direct supervision of the CEO bluntly refused to add up the Statement of Polls and he was supported by Lowenfield while the latter bluntly refused to give proper guidance to the secretariat. The concoction was crystal clear in the view of all parties.
Editor, one must, however, acknowledge the clear fault lines in the system which place the heavy burden of procedure and decisions in the lap of the Chairwoman who must ensure she gets it right every time. This necessary given the position was taken by the three APNU/AFC commissioners that complete the Commission. Led by Vincent Alexander, these persons have certainly demonstrated a lack of intent towards constitutional objectivity and have openly supported the wrongdoings of Keith Lowenfield. It has created a situation in alignment with numerous conflicts of interests for persons appointed as GECOM Commissioners while actively leading other conflicting partisan interests.
It is recalled that as a serving GECOM Commissioner whose obligation is the conduct transparent and legal elections with the acceptance of legal results, Vincent Alexander wrote to the five visiting CARICOM Prime Ministers in his capacity as head of the Year of the People of African Descent requesting them to understand that Guyana’s problems go way beyond the election and that must be their focus.
Further, Mr. Alexander has moved to allege the ethicizing the Chief Justice decision to Release the SOPs to the DPP and Police as an attack on Afro-Guyanese. He has been however conveniently silent on the fact that the makeup of GECOM administrative Staff is over 90 percent Afro-Guyanese that the organization should release these stats, validated by the IFMAS confirmation of the names receiving payments. It is factual that Mr. Alexander’s convenient advocacy has been largely divorced from the real issues which lend to the fact that his previous involvement in electoral reform construct has largely failed due to stymied and less than objective approaches.
The invalidation process upon which the CEO embarked upon was found by the Caribbean Court of Justice to be unlawful and in conflict with the existing electoral laws. From the open and public evidence, it was clear that some members of the GECOM staff were in a rigging mood and made all efforts to derail the Elections. Lowenfield openly acted in defiance of orders made by the court and yet, we are witnessing blunt provocative support from the likes of Mr. Alexander and other APNU/AFC Commissioners.
Madam Chairwoman, in the interest of justice, therefore, the necessary actions to put an end to all riggers must be taken now. The strongest penalties must be imposed to serve as a deterrent to future rigging and subverting the will of the Guyanese People. The indecent trio in the Secretariat MUST go!
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