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PPP election commissioners to boycott GECOM meetings until court cases end

PPP GECOM Commissioners: (left to right) Sase Gunraj, Robeson Benn and Bibi Safora Shadick

The three pro-People’s Progressive Party (PPP) election commissioners Saturday night vowed to boycott all meetings of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) until the court rules on whether the Region Four election results must be verified before they are declared.

“We will not respond to any such or further invitations from the Chief Elections Officer, Keith Lowenfield or Chairman of Guyana Elections Commission, Justice Claudette Singh, while the Court proceedings are still extant,” commissioners Sase Gunraj, Robeson Benn and Bibi Shadick said in a joint statement.

Their decision stemmed from Saturday evening’s email from the Chief Elections Officer informing her that she can summon a meeting of the seven-member Commission to consider his report of declarations from Returning Officers for General and Regional Elections 2020 from all ten of Guyana’s districts. Lowenfield told Singh that in accordance with Cap 1:03 Section 99 of the Laws of Guyana, “I have prepared the final report for submission to the Commission.”

Gunraj, Benn and Shadick said on Thursday, 5 March, 2020, they were individually served with copies of an Order of Court by Marshalls of the Supreme Court of Judicature.

The orders were issued in matters of Reeaz Holladar v Returning Officer for Region Four, Clairmont Mingo; Chief Elections Officer Lowenfield and GECOM Chairman Singh for an Injunction be and is hereby granted restraining them from declaring the votes recorded for each List of Candidates, for the said district before verification, but instead comply with the letter and spirit of Section 84 of the Representation of the People Act, Cap 1:03., Laws of Guyana, and then to declare the votes recorded for List of Candidates for Region Four; and restraining GECOM from declaring election results in keeping with the law.

The Commissioners said that “in our presence and at the same time, the said Order was also served on all members of the Commission.”

Gunraj, Benn and Shadick said they were also aware that several attempts were made to effect service on the Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission, the Chief Elections Officer and the Returning Officer. But in any event, an appearance was entered in the Court proceedings on behalf of the Chief Elections Officer and the Returning Officer.

Those PPP-aligned election commissioners said those matters continue to engage the attention of the Chief Justice, Roxanne George, sitting in the High Court.

“We consider this invitation to meet as a flagrant attempt to breach the Order of Court aforesaid and a naked attempt by the Chief Elections Officer, Keith Lowenfield, to suborn us to breach an Order of Court and exposing us to liability for contempt of Court,” they said.

As holders of a constitutional office, they said they are at all times obligated to obey the Constitution and other laws of Guyana and “we consider this invitation to meet as not only a violation of our duty to uphold the Constitution but also an invitation to subvert the course of justice.”

Insisting that the Region Four results must first be verified and declared in accordance with Section 84 of the Representation of the People Act, Chapter 1:03 of the Laws of Guyana, they contended that the purported declaration of the votes recorded for each list of candidates is invalid, null, void and of no effect.

Chief Justice George-Wiltshire is Sunday afternoon at 1:30 expected to deliver her decision on whether the High Court has jurisdiction to hear the case concerning the orders or concerns about the procedure for declaring results through an elections petition.