GECOM’s CEO hospitalised following suspected heart attack
On the heels of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) being ordered to start preparations for the holding of General and Regional Elections this year, Chief Elections Officer (CEO) Keith Lowenfield has been hospitalised.
According to reports, he was admitted on Tuesday at the Caribbean Heart Institute located in the Georgetown Public Hospital (GPHC) compound. Doctors believe Lowenfield suffered a heart attack as a result of high blood pressure.
GECOM’s Public Relations Officer Yolanda Warde confirmed that the Chief Elections Officer was taken to the hospital. She disclosed that Lowenfield is currently on seven days medical leave.
While she could not say what the nature of his illness is, Warde did relate, however, that Lowenfield is said to be in a stable condition and is currently undergoing a series of routine tests.
The Chief Elections Officer’s hospitalisation comes at a time when GECOM had been instructed to start preparations for polls sometime this year.
Over the past week, Lowenfield has been leading the elections secretariat at GECOM to ascertain the body’s preparedness to host elections within the constitutional 90-day deadline, which was effected following the December 21, 2018 passage of the No-confidence Motion.
However, after much deliberations, which were a stalemate at most times, the seven-member Commission last week decided that elections cannot be held by the March deadline due to insufficient funds and subsequently indicated same to President David Granger.
However, in a response letter to GECOM’s Chairman, retired Justice James Patterson, dated February 25, 2019, the Head of State ordered the body to commence elections preparations.
“The Government of Guyana is committed to doing everything possible to ensure that the Commission is provided with the financial resources and has sufficient time to conduct credible elections,” the missive from the Head of State to the GECOM Chairman states.
To this end, President Granger indicated that Government will approach the National Assembly for funding to host the upcoming polls.
Lowenfield was appointed Chief Elections Officer and Commissioner of National Registration back in 2014.
The CEO plays the key leadership role in the secretariat of GECOM, with responsibility for implementing all aspects of its operations, particularly the conduct of elections, and ensuring that results achieved are consistent with the laws of Guyana and the policies determined by the Commission.
The CEO will be the Commission’s primary point of contact for the staff of the secretariat, whose activities include the registration of registrants, the distribution of identification cards; the provision of information and guidance on electoral operational matters to community organisations and other stakeholders.
The CEO will also be required to represent the Commission’s policies and activities in interactions with stakeholders and other interest groups, including political parties, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), donor and international agencies, in matters relating directly to the operations of GECOM.