Removal of GECOM officials will institutionalise PPP electoral fraud- Harmon

Last Updated on Wednesday, 10 February 2021, 14:30 by Denis Chabrol

Joseph Harmon.

Opposition Leader Joseph Harmon on Wednesday accused Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo of hatching a plan to put People’s Progressive Party (PPP) supporters at the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) to rig the elections.

“They want to dismantle the Elections Commission and put in its place their own cronies that can carry out their instructions  so you will never again have free and fair elections in this country but it’s not going to happen,”  he told News-Talk Radio Guyana 103.1 FM/ Demerara Waves Online News.

Mr. Harmon’s position came one day after Mr. Jagdeo said the seven-member GECOM should compare the Statements of Poll with the Statements of Recount prove that efforts had been made by GECOM officials to accept fraudulent results. After that is proven, Mr. Jagdeo said that should be used as the basis to fire the Chief Election Officer Keith Lowenfield and Deputy Chief Election Officer Roxanne Myers.

Mr. Lowenfield, Ms. Myers, Region Four Returning Officer Clairmont Mingo, Registration Officer Sheffern February and Information Technology officer Enrique Livan and PNCR Chairman Volda Lawrence are before the courts on electoral fraud charges.

Mr. Jagdeo said the PPP would not call elections with Mr. Lowenfield and Ms. Myers at the helm of GECOM. “That is a red line for us,” he said.

The Opposition Leader was adamant that the removal of the two top administrators would discredit the function and work of the Elections Commission.  “When Bharrat Jagdeo speaks about electoral fraud and he speaks about the changes that he intends to make, these are all a sham. It is a sham to cloud the reality that the PPP is responsible and they are sitting in government on the basis of a flawed and a fraud system,” he said.

Mr. Harmon did not react to the Vice President’s announcement that the Representation of the People Act would be amended to provide for the almost immediate publication of the Statements of Poll in the newspapers, Official Gazette and Online. He also said that law would be more specific on the recount procedures because the pro-A Partnership for National Unity+Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) commissioners had ignored them in deciding to recount the votes cast in the March 2, 2020 general and regional elections.

Instead, a Recount Order was crafted but was subsequently mired in legal controversy.

On Mr. Jagdeo’s announcement that there would be stiffer penalties for election-related offences, the Opposition Leader said they would eventually backfire on the PPP. “We are not afraid of increasing the sentences and all of that because the PPP supporters that will be faced with that penalty,” he said.

Mr. Harmon restated concerns that there were no documents in more than 40 boxes on the East Coast Demerara to reconcile about 11,000 votes, and there was alleged impersonation of deceased persons and others overseas.

With the PPP having a simple majority in the 65-seat National Assembly to amend laws, the Opposition Leader gave not idea how he would make good on his plan to stop the governing party from amending Guyana’s election laws.