Last Updated on Tuesday, 22 June 2021, 16:27 by Denis Chabrol
The Chief Elections Officer of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), Keith Lowenfield; the Deputy Chief Elections Officer, Roxanne Myers and the Region Four Returning Officer, Clairmont Mingo were Tuesday sent on leave by the seven-member commission.
Mr. Lowenfield is entitled to 42 days annual leave, Ms. Myers 120 days and Mr. Mingo 35 days.
“This decision was necessary to facilitate the Commission’s deliberation on the three (3) motions tabled by the government nominated Commissioners seeking the immediate dismissal of those persons as well as the course of action to be adopted to conclude this process,” GECOM said in a statement.
GECOM said the it “intends to conclude these discussions within the shortest possible time.”
Governing People’s Progressive Party Civic’s (PPPC)-aligned Elections Commissioner Sase Gunraj told reporters that the decision was taken unanimously. Asked what would happen after the leave comes to an end, Mr. Gunraj said he hopes that GECOM Chairman Retired Justice Claudette Singh would make a ruling on whether there would be a debate on the three motions before.
Pro-opposition A Partnership for National Unity+Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) Elections Commissioner Vincent Alexander said he and his colleague commissioners objected to a debate on the three PPP-sponsored motions for the trio to be fired immediately for alleged electoral fraud linked to the March 2, 2020 general and regional elections.
Mr. Alexander said that he argued, based on the principles of common law, that a tribunal should be set up to address the allegations contained in the motions because the three sponsors have already indicated their bias in the process. ”
Mr. Gunraj disagreed, saying there was no provision in GECOM’s rules for a tribunal. He said GECOM is empowered by Guyana’s Constitution. “It is our contention that the Constitution allows the Commission to treat with and deal with motions of this sort. In fact, we are constitutionally mandated to be the authority to do that and that there is now power in us to delegate such hearings,” he said.
Asked who would perform their duties after they have handed over to GECOM’s Human Resources Manager, Mr. Alexander said currently there are no statutory duties to perform because the Commission has not decided when Local Government Elections would be held.
No time frame has been given when the Chairman of GECOM, Retired Justice Claudette Singh will make a decision on how to deal with the motions.
The State is, meanwhile, moving ahead with further investigations and additional charges related to electoral fraud. The High Court recently ordered the provision of photocopy and certification of Statements of Poll and Statements of Recount showing the declaration/ results of the March 2, 2020 polls.