The recent shenanigans of Chief Elections Officer (CEO) Keith Lowenfield must not be allowed to go unpunished by the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM). This is the view of People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Executive and former Chief Whip, Gail Teixeira.
In a recent panel discussion, Teixeira laid into the CEO for his defiance of GECOM Chair, Retired Justice Claudette Singh, who had sent him clear instructions to use the results from the certified National Recount to prepare a final report to declare the winner of the elections.
Instead, Lowenfield engaged in a back and forth with Justice Singh that culminated in him
reverting to using results that included the discredited declaration of Region Four Returning Officer Clairmont Mingo. In fact, it was Mingo’s non-transparent tabulation and declaration that pushed PPP/C and A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) to agree to a recount in the first place.
According to Teixeira, Lowenfield’s conduct has been of someone seemingly without a conscience. She said
that Lowenfield could very well be guilty of high crimes and misdemeanours, a term used to denote crimes which are committed by persons in positions of authority and involved in politics.
“He has gone against the Constitution, the CCJ and the High Court of Guyana and has shown that he appears to be above GECOM. So, he deserves to be fired… nothing can redeem him,” Teixeira said.
Teixeira also noted that contrary to the rhetoric from the APNU/AFC camp and the excuse proferred by Lowenfield to the GECOM Chair, the CCJ at no point invalidated the recount and Order 60 of 2020.
“The CCJ never, ever, discounted, nullified or did anything to harm the recount. What they clearly did is nullify what the Court of Appeal did and what Lowenfield did. That’s the two basic things they did. And they went to great pains, in the actual ruling, to point out the whole issue of a valid vote and how it is counted.”
“The process that was designated by Order 60 was to ensure final, credible, election results. So anyone fooling people that the CCJ nullified the recount is actually guilty… there must be a penalty for being highly irresponsible and misleading people. The CCJ never nullified the recount results. In fact, they upheld the process that led to the recount.”
Fellow PPP/C candidate Hugh Todd, who was also a panellist, meanwhile expressed his hopes that Lowenfield would be dealt with when GECOM meets. As he put it, both the Chair and GECOM have sweeping powers that can be put to use against the CEO.
“This is a man who’s worked in the military. This is a man who understands instructions, authority, his job. He said so himself. We have clips of him talking about the fact that the CEO takes instructions from the Commission and he’s not a power unto himself,” Todd said.
“What I’m seeing in the environment, the people are tired of him. We’ve been patient, we’ve given him many opportunities to correct himself. The people of Guyana, the electorate, are calling for his removal. And I think madam Chair, along with the Commission, will be taking decisive steps to ensure Keith Lowenfield does not stand in the way of the will of the people.”
The national report had shown that the PPP/C won the elections with 233,336 votes while the APNU/AFC coalition garnered 217,920. Justice Singh had written to Lowenfield and instructed him to prepare a final report based on the recount.
Instead, Lowenfield had submitted a report invalidating over 115,000 voters based on unsubstantiated allegations of dead and migrant voters, made by the APNU/AFC. Lowenfield’s actions caused an immediate uproar and the varying sides found themselves in the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) for the Irfaan Ali et al v Eslyn David et al case.
Among other decisions, the CCJ ruled on Wednesday that the Chief Elections Officer must produce a final elections report as ordered by the Chair, Retired Justice Claudette Singh. The CCJ also ruled that Lowenfield’s report which arbitrarily disenfranchised voters was invalid and that the concerns raised by the APNU/AFC coalition must be addressed in an elections petition.
The GECOM Chair wrote Lowenfield again, instructing him to submit his report so that the President could be declared. In his fraudulent report he submitted on Saturday, Lowenfield included the fraudulent declarations of the embattled Mingo, which inaccurately shows that the PPP/C gained 80,920 votes while the APNU/AFC received 116,941 votes in Region Four.
The inaccuracy of those numbers was widely proven during the recount exercise, as it was unearthed that Mingo heavily inflated the votes in favour of the APNU/AFC to give them a false victory.
Lowenfield already has several private criminal charges pending against him in the High Court on the charge of misconduct in public office, for which Principal Magistrate Faith McGusty issued a summons to him after he failed to appear in court.