APNU Commissioners walk out during meeting to decide fate of Lowenfield, Myers, Mingo
– Gunraj says motion will go ahead one way or another
A meeting of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) to determine the way forward on motions for the dismissal of the three top officials charged with electoral fraud was derailed on Tuesday when Opposition-nominated Commissioners staged a walk out.
In an interview with this publication, Attorney-at-Law Sase Gunraj, one of the People’s Progressive Party (PPP)-nominated Commissioners, confirmed that the meeting had to be aborted before the motions to dismiss GECOM Chief Elections Officer Keith Lowenfield, his deputy Roxanne Myers, and Region Four Returning Officer Clairmont Mingo could be debated.
He said that during the virtual meeting, Opposition- nominated GECOM Commissioners Vincent Alexander and Desmond Trotman logged out in protest, effectively staging a virtual walkout. Charles Corbin, the third Opposition Commissioner, stayed online until the meeting was adjourned.
Asked about the way forward, Gunraj explained that there are still a lot of options available to the Commission, but they are waiting for GECOM Chairwoman, Justice (retired) Claudette Singh, to make a decision.
“They said they don’t want to participate in the motion. And they walked out… They just logged out of the meeting… it’s nothing new. We have become accustomed to it.” Gunraj explained to this publication.
“But we have also designed countermeasures to deal with those things, and the law provides for remedies in the event of these shenanigans. I think we can host a meeting in the adjournment. We have a lot of options. But we’re waiting to hear what the Chairman will say,” the Commissioner said.
The GECOM trio were before the court for a variety of electoral fraud charges when Gunraj and fellow Government commissioners Manoj Narayan and Bibi Shadick brought motions for their dismissal from GECOM.
The motion explained that the CEO, in spite of protests from contesting parties other than the APNU/AFC, deliberately chose to neglect the complaints of discrepancies in relation to Mingo’s numbers.
In the case of Myers, that motion was submitted in the names of Shadick and Narayan. They argued that she aided Lowenfield in the commission of all his infractions, and even went out of her way to facilitate a meeting in a GECOM facility by then Foreign Affairs Minister Karen Cummings, where she threatened to revoke the accreditation of international observers.
Myers’s purported order to have the Guyana Police Force remove Commissioner Gunraj and political party representatives from the GECOM Command Centre during the tabulation of the Statements of Poll (SoPs) is also listed as one of the reasons she should be dismissed from her substantive post as DCEO.
The grounds for Mingo’s dismissal surround his tabulation of the SoPs in which he manufactured numbers to reflect a win for the APNU/AFC. It also concerns his conduct and defiance of the court orders mandating that he follow the outlined statutory process to acquire his final tally of the SoPs.
However, Lowenfield countered with a court case seeking to block Gunraj and Shadick from exercising their constitutional power in the motion. In his court documents, Lowenfield sought “an order restraining Commissioners Sase Gunraj and Bibi Shadick from participating as adjudicators in the hearing of the motion for dismissal of the applicant brought by the said Sase Ganraj and Bibi Shadick.”
He is also seeking “a declaration that the complainants Sase Gunraj and Bibi Shadick in the motion for dismissal of the applicant cannot properly participate, hear and determine their own complaint against the applicant.”
Further, he wants “a declaration that the respondent, having determined that there shall be a hearing of the motion for dismissal of the applicant brought by Commissioners Gunraj and Shadick, is bound to provide the applicant with a fair hearing, including the protections of the rules of natural justice.”
GECOM had unanimously decided to send Lowenfield, Myers and Mingo on leave, pending a debate on the motions calling for their dismissal. The GECOM Chairperson was supposed to fix a date for this debate at the time Lowenfield decided to move to the court.
Lowenfield, Myers and Mingo are all before the courts for a number of electoral charges for their attempts to sway the results of the March 2020 General and Regional Elections in favour of the then ruling APNU/AFC Government.