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Chief Elections Officer to push for consensus

Chief Elections Officer, Keith Lowenfield

Newly-appointed Chief Elections Officer and Commissioner of National Registration, Keith Lowenfield on Thursday pledged to strive for consensus in carrying out his mandate.

Lowenfield, a trained specialist in Public Administration, was unanimously selected from among three candidates. The others were Jamaican Danville Davidson and United States-based Guyanese Savitrie Singh.

“I am a strong supporter of the consensus procedure, which is so pivotal for GECOM to conduct its affairs in accordance with our existing legal provisions and international best practices for elections,” he told a news conference held at Cara Lodge.

In the presence of senior envoys of the United States, Britain, Canada, Mexico and the European Union- most of which have helped finance aspects of Guyana’s previous elections- Lowenfield emphasised that he would “enthusiastically and energetically” help the seven-member Commission reach consensus.

The Chief Elections Officer in passing expressed surprise that the usually politically divided commission could have reached unanimity on his appointment. “You know in this era in Guyana where it is very difficult to get unanimous decisions I am really heartened that this was of a unanimous nature,” he said.

Prior to his appointment, the governing Peoples Progressive Party Civic’s (PPP)- nominated commissioners had voted for then Chief Elections Officer, Gocool Boodoo to remain on the job pending consideration of his application for his contract to be renewed. In the end, GECOM Chairman Dr. Steve Surujbally used his casting vote to break the deadlock that led to Boodoo’s departure after his contract had expired in April 2013.

Vice Chairman of the Alliance For Change (AFC), Moses Nagamootoo did not expect Lowenfield’s appointment to ratchet up discord in the PPP-C because the hierarchy of A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) was made up of several former GDF officers.

Nagamootoo said Lowenfield’s past military career was largely irrelevant and the emphasis should be on whether he is qualified, competent and professional for the job. “It would both be foolish and fraudulent for the PPP to want to exploit Mr. Lowenfield’s past employment or his past occupation as a factor for generating any type of resentment over him holding the office,” he told DemWaves.

The PPP-C has historically harboured fears about the security forces perceived political loyalty to the Peoples National Congress Reform (PNCR) which is the major partner in APNU.