Peoples Progressive Party/ Civic (PPP/C) Executive Member, Priya Manickchand, has alleged that the “behaviour” of Chief Elections Officer, Keith Lowenfield, in which he unilaterally invalidated over 115,000 valid votes and provided concocted figures showing a ‘victory’ for the incumbent APNU/AFC Coalition, amounts to electoral fraud.
Manickchand, a PPP/C Candidate for the March 2 General and Regional Elections, during a recent interview with St Lucia’s Choice News Now, challenged Lowenfield to take legal action against her and others, who have accused him of being partial towards the incumbent APNU/AFC Coalition, so that the issue could be “interrogated in Court”.
“We believe and we are alleging strongly, and I hope he sues me, so that we can interrogate this in a court…this is electoral fraud that he is engaging in,” Manickchand told host, Janeka Simon.
Providing details of the current political impasse in Guyana following the March 2, polls, Manickchand explained that the CEO provided two reports on two separate occasions, both of which contained figures which were different.
She explained that his first report, the CEO sought to invalidate 285,000 votes. “He did not tell us why, he did not tell us how, he did not tell us how he reached that number. He decided by himself, the 285,000 votes from the people of this country would be invalidated,” she outlined.
Manickchand, a former Education Minister under the PPP/C Administration, argued that there were never any doubts about the votes being counted, “it was always valid votes, you can’t count invalid votes.”
She detailed that on night of the election, when all the votes were being counted, the valid votes were separated from those that were deemed as invalid or rejected. Invalid votes, she said, were placed in a separate envelope.
Manickchand reminded that the process was done in the presence of all party agents and local and international observers.
She pointed out that following the Court of Appeal’s decision, Mr Lowenfield took it upon himself and returned with a second report to the Commission, this time seeking to invalidate 115,000 valid votes.
“Again he failed to tell us how he reached this number. Why is it 115,000 votes are invalidated? Who told him to invalidate them.
Manickchand, a lawyer by profession, insists that no Court would place that authority in Lowenfield to invalidate votes in an electoral process.
“We are saying…the Court of Appeal did not give Mr Lowenfield any ability to determine by himself what valid votes are and what valid votes are not”.
CARICOM Chair, Mia Mottley, a few days ago, expressed concern over the CEO’s latest report in which he sought to present concocted figures in favour of the incumbent APNU/AFC Coalition and at the same time discarding over 115,000 valid votes.
In a video statement, PM Mottley had asserted that Lowenfield’s numbers cannot vary from those coming out of the national recount.
She had noted that from the inception, CARICOM has been clear in consistently calling for every vote to be counted in a fair and transparent manner.
The National Recount, which was conducted under the scrutiny of a special Caribbean Community (Caricom) team, shows the PPP/C in a landslide victory with some 15,416 more votes than its main political rival, the APNU/AFC coalition.