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House-to-house registration began on legal advice – Chief Elections Officer

Chief Elections Officer, Keith Lowenfield has told the Private Sector Commission (PSC) that he began house-to-house registration based on legal advice by the Guyana Elections Commission’s (GECOM) lawyer who said that all actions before the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) ruled that James Patterson’s appointment was flawed and unconstitutional were valid.

“GECOM’s Legal Officer (Excellence Dazzell) upon my request advised that, “In light of the judgement of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCI) on 18 June 2019, which stated that the process by which Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission was appointed was flawed, every act done by that Chairman (Justice (Rtd) James Patterson) after 18 June 2019 would be void. However, acts done before 18 June 2019 would be valid since those acts would have been done on the premise that the appointment was bona fide.”

Consequent to the foregoing, Mrs Dazzell in her advice also went on to state that “…since Order 25 of 2019, was signed and gazetted before the Judgment of the CCJ, that is 11 June 2019, it is valid,” he told the PSC’s Chairman, Gerry Gouveia.

Responding to a letter by the PSC that he should cease the exercise that began Saturday, Lowenfield said the registration would continue until a new GECOM Chairman is appointed and the commission directs him otherwise.

President David Granger and Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo are at loggerheads over what the process should entail for the selection of nominees for the key post of GECOM Chairman. Granger says he has a right to submit nominees and Jagdeo, in rejecting Granger’s nominees, said the Guyanese leader does not enjoy such a constitutional right.

Lowenfield said he could not be faulted for consulting with stakeholders when, at a meeting with political stakeholders on May 2, 2019, the People’s Progressive Party headed by Mr. Zulfikar Mustapha “explicitly stated that they will not be participating in any deliberation on House-to-House Registration since they are not in agreement with the exercise and ‘walked out’.”

Political commentator and Attorney-at-Law, Christopher Ram on Tuesday asked the High Court to order GECOM to stop the registration exercise because it is illegal and unconstitutional and it risks removing persons from the voters’ list.

Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo on Friday warned that contempt of court proceedings would be filed against Chief Election Officer Keith Lowenfield if the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) goes ahead with house-to-house registration.