The election process needs to come to a quick end, so the nation can breathe. People and business have been suffering. There is no gain from prolonging a declaration of a winner more than four months delayed. The world is watching Guyana and appealing to Lowenfield to follow the law. The outcome is inevitable based on the recount and as earlier pronounced by GECOM. Lowenfield must follow the law that requires him to prepare a final report for a declaration. Failing that, the consequences would be severe – as there would be sanctions against Lowenfield and other riggers.
The final acts to bring closure to the March 2 election depend on Chief Election Officer Lowenfield and the Chair, Claudette Singh. The latter already accepts the Caricom-monitored recount as the basis for the declaration. She has triggered the finality clause of the process, instructing the CEO to prepare the ten matrixes for each region as per the recount, a brief summary of the recount process, and conversion of votes into seats for each region as well as the National Assembly. These would then form the basis for a declaration by the Chair and the swearing in of the President by the Chancellor of the judiciary.
Lowenfield must act professionally, independent of any influence from a party. The problem is since March 3, he has failed to carry out his responsibilities according to the Constitution and electoral law. Lowenfield has no choice in preparing the matrices with the CCJ pronouncement on March 8. As the CCJ ruled, he must follow the law relating to the declaration of the outcome of the elections.
The critical question that Guyanese in the diaspora and at home are asking is whether he would follow the law. Since March 3, Lowenfield has been viewed as contaminating the process and as a participant in electoral fraud. He has sided with a party. He now has a chance to rehabilitate his image and retrieve the situation to support free and fair elections. Will he grab the lifeline to be a champion of free and fair elections, or will he go down in history as the person who was an architect of electoral fraud?
The CCJ, Guyana’s highest court, explicitly and sternly pronounced on what Lowenfield must do with clear and specific instructions: prepare the declaration report based on the recount, and not to nullify any vote. And he must do it expeditiously. The Chair sent him a new updated instruction on Thursday. Lowenfield must do the honourable thing and carry out the instruction. He has no escape path. He is in serious legal limbo. He is facing three sets of criminal charges for fraud. If he defies GECOM, he would be charged for insubordination and be dismissed. Worse, he would be brought up on contempt charges for defying the ruling of the CCJ. In addition, he would face sanctions (visa cancellations) from the ABCE countries. It is in his interest to do the right thing to bring the process to closure.
Were he to prepare the right report for GECOM, he would be cleared of fraud; criminal charges would be dropped. When he issued the incorrect report, one can excuse him for following the interpretation of the CoA judgment. He would be excused of insubordination for that report. But once he prepares the right report as instructed by the Chair and as ruled by CCJ, insubordination and all criminal charges would be dropped.
To reiterate the points, to end criminal charges against him, protect his job, avoid jail for contempt of court, and improve the global image of the country, Lowenfield must do the honourable thing and prepare the election report based on the recount vote.
It is also the moral and democratic thing to do. People around the region and the world are laughing at Guyana for an inconclusive election that for four months old was stymied by what they call the Lowenfield fraud.
Lowenfield has no justifiable reasons to prolong the electoral process. Guyanese say Lowenfield must be mature enough to tell riggers he can’t help them anymore. Once he comes straight from now on, his job process would be completed, and he would be rendered safe from fraud charges and insubordination. Also, his tarnished reputation would be rehabilitated.
Guyanese are embarrassed by the behaviour of Lowenfield, and they and people around the globe are appealing to Lowenfield to act decently — follow the law and execute the CCJ ruling by preparing the correct report for GECOM to use for the declaration. This act will bring closure to the election and allow the country to move on.
Dr Vishnu Bisram