Lowenfield blasted for gross negligence, dereliction of duty
Chief Elections Officer, Keith Lowenfield has been blasted for negligence and dereliction of duty as outcry continues over his illegal decision to unilaterally invalidate over 115,000 votes to thwart the will of the Guyanese people.
In a stinging letter to the Chair of GECOM, Retired Justice Claudette Singh, Liberty and Justice Party (LJP) outlined a litany of reasons why the CEO has failed in his duties.
The letter points out the CEO’s shortcomings, such as when important statutory documents went missing under his watch at the Region Four Returning Office or when he used fraudulent results declared by Returning Officer Clairmont Mingo, to form a final report for declaration of results. In the letter, the LJP leadership outlined that over the past four months, Lowenfield has conducted himself in a manner that does not command the confidence of the public and “continues to demonstrate no degree of respect for the electorate, the Guyanese people nor the structures and institutions that were meant to protect and safeguard the will of the people.”
According to LJP, his shortcomings include “gross negligence with regards to the safeguarding of elections documents; failing to provide clear written instructions to the Presiding Officers on polling day with regards to safeguarding documents and which documents to seal within the poll boxes; deliberately declining to disclose the Statements of Poll (SoPs) to the Commission, the parties, the court and the public.”
The reference to election documents concerns the disappearance of a number of documents that were part of the electoral process which were supposed to be in their ballot boxes. These documents include the Official List of Electors (OLE), counterfoils, poll books, proxies and spoilt ballots.
APNU/AFC has used these missing documents to insist that these voters be disenfranchised. However, it is known that these documents were last seen in the possession of GECOM staff at the Region Four Returning Office. In addition, Presiding Officers have revealed that the documents were not included in their rightful places on the instructions of Mingo.
Besides “knowingly and recklessly” using Mingo’s fraudulent results, which would have gifted A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) a win, LJP, which is led by Lenox Shuman, also accused Lowenfield of demonstrating bias.
They also pointed to his attempts to disenfranchise over 115,000 voters by submitting a final report to GECOM that went against the Statements of Recount (SoRs) and the official Certificates of Tabulation, which came out of the recount process.
The National Recount had shown that the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) won 233,336 votes while the APNU/AFC garnered 217,920. But in the report Lowenfield submitted, it was claimed that the coalition garnered 171,825 votes while the PPP/C gained 166,343 votes.
How the CEO arrived at those figures is unknown. According to LJP, the number of voters Lowenfield invalidated amounts to 25 per cent of the Guyanese electorate, an unenvious record for most votes invalidated in Guyana’s history.
The party accused Lowenfield of “exercising authority that is not vested in him and beyond his remit, in interpreting the Appeal’s Court ruling and acting contrary to said court orders; providing a report of the 2 March 2020 elections recount contrary to the directions of the Commission; gross insubordination and acting contrary to the directions of the Chairwoman and the Commission.”
LJP pointed out that Lowenfield is currently subject to three separate criminal charges relating to electoral fraud. In addition, he has been evading the lawful service of court documents, a situation which led to Principal Magistrate Faith McGusty issuing him a summons on Friday after he failed to appear in court.
The letter to the Chair pointed out that all of the issues are matters of public records and are widely known by all political parties, the international community and the Guyanese people. “The office of the CEO is one that must command the confidence of not only Guyanese and Guyana, but also that of the global community that we live in. The office of the CEO is the anchor to the vanguard of democratic institutions.” The party leadership in their letter stated that they are of the resolute view that the CEO has completely and absolutely lost the confidence of the Guyanese electorate, “and we believe the above as laid out provide undisputable grounds for Mr Lowenfield’s immediate removal/termination from his post as CEO and for his expeditious replacement with a candidate more amicable to the terms and operations of law-abiding statutory officers in democratic institutions.”
The party also urged GECOM to revisit all that has taken place, as well as Article 162 (b) of the Constitution of Guyana and to “act in accordance with the will of the people that have been reaffirmed through the recount process of the 2 March 2020 Elections.”
Three private criminal charges were filed against the CEO. However, when the matter was called for hearing at the Georgetown Magistrates’ Courts, Lowenfield was a no-show. He has evaded service by the court marshals and as such the court itself issued a summon for him. Those cases will continue on July 21.