Inconceivable for GECOM to continue tolerating Lowenfield – Ramkarran
…says CEO continues to flaunt insubordination, grasp at straws
After Chief Elections Officer (CEO) Keith Lowenfield’s latest act of defiance against Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) Chair, Retired Justice Claudette Singh, calls have mounted for the recalcitrant Lowenfield to be dismissed.
According to Senior Counsel and A New and United Guyana (ANUG) Presidential Candidate Ralph Ramkarran, it is inconceivable for GECOM to continue to tolerate Lowenfield, who has over the past few months submitted more than one fraudulent report to GECOM.
Ramkarran called Lowenfield’s actions “gross insubordination” against Justice Singh, who as Chairperson of
the six-member Commission has the deciding vote. In his writings in the “Conversation Tree”, Ramkarran referred to Lowenfield’s disobedience of Justice Singh’s clear instructions to him to submit a report based on the National Recount, which shows the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) winning by 15,416 votes.
“The CEO’s July 10 request of Justice Claudette Singh, the Chair of GECOM, for clarification of certain issues arising from the CCJ’s decision, cannot be described as anything less than weird mumbo jumbo,” Ramkarran wrote.
“The Chair’s dismissive response of the CEO’s request is an indication of what she thinks of either the requests. But lest the arguments by the CEO be elevated to talking points and lead to the whipping up another round of frenzied propaganda, it is necessary to debunk them as soon as possible.”
Ramkarran noted that in justifying his insubordination, Lowenfield had cherrypicked sections of the Caribbean Court of Justice’s (CCJ) recent ruling on the Irfaan Ali et al v Eslyn David et al case to support his position. One of those sections dealt with paragraphs 41 and 45 of the CCJ judgement and according to Lowenfield, showed that order 60 of 2020 cannot be used to determine a final, credible count. However, Ramkarran provided clarity.
“The CCJ did not endorse the view that GECOM cannot determine credibility, that Order 60 cannot be executed in its entirety and that a final count cannot be attained. This is an egregious distortion of what the CCJ said,” Ramkarran wrote.
“The CCJ determined that after valid and invalid votes are determined during the procedures set out in ROPA, any further alleged irregularities, as claimed by Mr. Harmon, must be addressed by an election petition after the results are declared. This has been twisted by the CEO to allege that a credible count (credible according to his and not the CCJ’s ruling) cannot be attained by the CCJ’s ruling.”
Lowenfield had also written the Chair asking her “how Section 96 of the Representation of the People’s Act (ROPA) could be properly operationalized”, since it says he must prepare his report based on compilations made by Returning Officers, who were not present during the recount. Lowenfield had claimed that the Chair’s directions to him would, therefore, clash with the Act. But Ramkarran reminded him of Recount Order 60 of 2020.
According to Ramkarran, the Recount Order created special circumstances where Returning Officers were not required to compile the number of votes but rather, Secretariat staff. He noted that the Recount Order created modifications under Section 22 (1) of the Election Laws (Amendment) Act, allowing GECOM full powers to make the changes.
Ramkarran pointed out also that the Recount Order provided for the Statements of Recount (SoR) to be used to declare the final results. And as the Chief Elections Officer, Ramkarran noted that Lowenfield ought to be aware of this more than most.
“Why then this weird request? The statement by the CCJ that the Recount Order cannot create a new election regime was made in rejecting the claim by Justice Reynolds that the Recount Order did just that. The CCJ was referring to the Constitution and not to ROPA. It upheld the Recount Order,” Ramkarran, who had also taken part in the case, said.
But perhaps one of Lowenfield’s most contentious statements in his letter was his claim that he must ascertain the results of the elections himself before submitting his report. Lowenfield, therefore, claimed in his letter that he needed “clear guidance” on Justice Singh’s instructions to him. But Ramkarran made it clear that Lowenfield is, at all times, under the direction of GECOM.
“If proof were needed that the CEO was grasping for straws to place obstacles in the way of sending in a report, this unintelligible request for clarification demonstrates it. Section 18 provides that he is subject to the directions of the Commission. The reference to Section 18 is merely to remind him that he is not independent and must comply with the Chair’s request.”
“The Chair is not required to make any reference to laws in her request. The CEO is presumed to know his duties, responsibilities and what he has to do and under what laws, even if the Chair’s letter is incorrect. Let us hope that by the time this letter appears in print he has complied,” Ramkarran also wrote.
In fact, GECOM has scheduled a meeting for today, where the intransigence of the Chief Elections Officer is expected to be discussed. The national report had shown that the PPP/C won the elections with 233,336 votes while the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) coalition garnered 217,920.
It is these results that everyone, from the international community to civil society to local and foreign observers, have called to be used to declare PPP/C the winner of the elections.