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Keith Lowenfield is new Chief Elections Officer

Newly-appointed Chief Elections Officer, Keith Lowenfield (Exclusive DemWaves photo)

Ex Guyana Defence Force (GDF) Major,  Keith Lowenfield is the new Chief Elections Officer, the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) said in a statement.

“The full membership of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) today (Wednesday) decided unanimously to the appointment of Mr. Keith Lowenfield to the position of Chief Election Officer and Commissioner of National Registration,” he said.

The Commission made its decision early Wednesday afternoon, after having conducted overnight evaluations of the interviews that were conducted a day earlier.

Lowenfield, who was up to Tuesday acting Deputy Chief Elections Officer, tipped the two overseas candidates -Jamaican Danville Davidson and United States-based Guyanese Savitrie Singh. 

Acting Chief Elections Officer, Calvin Benn opted out of the race on March 10, 2014 because of a recent illness. He remains in the number two spot. “Mr. Benn submitted in his letter that he had engaged in some serious reflection during a recent period of illness and has concluded that it would be unwise for him to compete for the position of Chief Election Officer,” GECOM said in a statement.

Lowenfield joined GECOM along with then Chairman of Joseph Singh. The new CEO is expected to be sworn in by Chief Justice, Ian Chang on Thursday.

In congratulating the new CEO, A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) signaled its expectation that future elections would be held with little hiccup. “APNU is confident that during Mr. Lowenfield’s tenure as Chief Elections Officer there will be non-controversial and properly administered elections,” stated APNU.

He succeeds Gocool Boodoo whose departure from the post was mired in controversy over his initial computation of the November 2011 election results that would have given the Peoples Progressive Party Civic (PPPC) a one-seat majority control of the House. The incorrect formula was spotted by Commissioner Vincent Alexander and new calculation saw the combined opposition controlling the House.

After his contract expired in April 2012, opposition-nominated commissioners and the Chairman Dr. Steve Surujbally voted against Boodoo’s term being extended and said he should leave the post altogether and re-apply. He never did.

Boodoo frequents the Office of the President.

GECOM later issued the following statement:

The full membership of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) today decided unanimously to the appointment of Mr. Keith Lowenfield to the position of Chief Election Officer and Commissioner of National Registration.  This decision was taken at a Special Meeting of GECOM in the Commission’s Boardroom.

The Commission’s decision has brought to an end a very lengthy and meticulous procedure associated with the matter including (i) advertising the vacancy locally and overseas, (ii) shortlisting of suitable candidates from the fourteen applications received, (iii) determining procedures for the interviews, and (iv) conducting the interviews.

Of the fourteen applications received, four were deemed by the Commission to have met the criteria and were shortlisted to be interviewed.  They were Mr. Danville Davidson of Jamaica, Ms. Savitri Singh of Washington, USA, Mr. Calvin Benn, and Mr. Lowenfield.

 Mr. Davidson and Ms. Singh were interviewed via skype.

Mr. Benn was not interviewed because he tendered a letter dated March 10, 2014, informing regretfully that he was no longer interested in the post of Chief Election Officer and that, by way of the said letter, he was withdrawing his application for the post.

Mr. Benn submitted in his letter that he had engaged in some serious reflection during a recent period of illness and has concluded that it would be unwise for him to compete for the position of Chief Election Officer.  Further, he expressed regrets to the Commission for any inconvenience which might have been caused by his change of heart.

Immediately following the Commission’s decision, Mr. Lowenfield was summoned to the Meeting and was informed accordingly.  GECOM’s Chairman, Dr. Steve Surujbally took the opportunity to congratulate Mr. Lowenfield on being appointed to head the Commission’s Secretariat and expressed his confidence in his (Mr. Lowenfield’s) ability to honour the responsibilities of the position of Chief Election Officer.  All of the Commissioners also took the opportunity to congratulate Mr. Lowenfield and wish him well in his new position.

Responding to the sentiments expressed by Dr. Surujbally and the Commissioners, Mr. Lowenfield thanked them individually and collectively for the confidence that the Commission has placed in him through its decision to appoint him to the position of Chief Election Officer and Commissioner of National Registration.  In so doing he undertook to carry out the relevant duties to the best of his abilities without fear, favour and discrimination.