Chief Elections Officer (CEO), Keith Lowenfield did not respond to the query made by Opposition-nominated Commissioners, today, about the status of his report on the March General and Regional Elections. This report is a major component in the declaration of a winner of these elections.
According to Commissioner, Sase Gunraj, he and his colleagues sought to ascertain from the CEO the status of his report, when he appeared before the Commission this afternoon. Lowenfield was given up to 14:30hrs today to submit his report utilising figures from the recount.
“[A]fter the meeting was convened, an attempt was made to discuss the matter at hand including, but not limited to, an inquiry into the Chief Elections Officer whether he had prepared his report. This inquiry was made by members of my side of the Commission, [which] was met by one member of the Commission – of the other side – saying to the CEO that he does not have to answer to us. Well, if he doesn’t have to answer to the Commission, I don’t know who he has to answer to. This was speedily followed by the walkout by the other three members, and when that question was again put to the CEO, he refused to answer. He followed by walking out of the meeting as well. So, here we are, the meeting was discontinued,” Gunraj said.
This is the third time that Lowenfield has been asked to submit a report using the recount figures. On every occasion, Lowenfield submitted reports nonreflective of the recount process. In one instance, he submitted figures which invalidated over 115,000 votes, on the basis that there was voter impersonation at the polls.
Lowenfield’s move to invalidate votes does not fall under his remit, nor that of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM). The Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) has clearly expressed that such matters relating to issues that extend into the realm of voter fraud, must be addressed by a different part of the constitution that speaks about the utilisation of an elections petition. That report was set aside by the CCJ in its ruling.
But Lowenfield is adamant to not use those recount figures, which show a win for the Opposition, the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C). His reports all point to the incumbent copping a win at the polls. But the figures that give the incumbent a win, are those that have been overtaken by the recount data.
Lowenfield might have received yet another lifeline today when a private citizen took to the courts to bar the GECOM Chair, Justice (retired) Claudette Singh from making any declaration using the recount data. The applicant is adamant that figures – which were overtaken by the recount data – are the ones that should be used to make a declaration.
The move has resulted in GECOM temporarily halting his operations until the fresh court case is concluded. It’s first hearing is set for tomorrow at 10am in the High Court before the Chief Justice (CJ) Roxanne George.
Gunraj, however, argues that there is nothing legally stopping GECOM from doing its work. He said that no injunction has been granted, and therefore, the CEO must submit his report. Justice Singh has been silent on this development. She is yet to make public her decision or the way forward for the Commission.
It has been more than four months since elections were held in Guyana.