GECOM meets today to deliberate on Lowenfield’s report

GECOM Chief Elections Officer, Keith Lowenfield and Chairperson Justice Claudette Singh

The seven-member Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) will be meeting today to deliberate on the report submitted by Chief Elections Officer (CEO) Keith Lowenfield ahead of its much-anticipated final declaration, on June 16, of the March 2 elections.

The meeting will commence sometime around 11:00h at GECOM’s High Street, Kingston Headquarters.

According to the amended Recount Order, “The Commission shall, after deliberating on the report…, determine whether it should request the Chief Elections Officer to use the data complied… as the basis for the submission of a report under section 96 of the Representation of the People Act, Cap 1:03, provided that the Commission shall, no later than three (3) days after receiving the report, make the declaration of the results of the final credible count of the elections held on the 2nd day of March 2020.”

Lowenfield submitted his report on the recently-concluded national recount of the votes cast at the March polls to the GECOM Chair, Retired Justice Claudette Singh on Saturday. The report has since been shared with the six Commissioners at GECOM.

In the report, the CEO confirmed that the Opposition People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) secured a majority of the votes cast at the March 2020 General and Regional Elections. He presented figures to show PPP/C in a landslide victory in the General Elections with 15,416 more votes than its main political rival, the incumbent A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) coalition.

The PPP/C garnered a total of 233,336 votes while the APNU/AFC secured 217,920 votes.

For the new parties, the numbers are as follows: A New and United Guyana (ANUG) – 2313; Change Guyana (CG) – 1953; Liberty and Justice Party (LJP) – 2657; People’s Republic Party (PRP) – 889; The Citizen’s Initiative (TCI) – 680; The New Movement (TNM) – 244; and the United Republican Party (URP) – 360.

However, Lowenfield has come in for criticism from stakeholders, including the PPP/C, after he strayed from his mandate – that is, presenting a tabulation of the votes garnered during the recount exercise and a summary of the observation reports – and went on to illegally proffer his opinions, saying that the election process may have lacked credibility and fairness.

The PPP/C has since said it was not surprised at the CEO’s apparent teaming up with the coalition to peddle these unsubstantiated claims of electoral fraud.

In a strongly-worded statement on Saturday, the Party said, “Undoubtedly, in one swipe, Lowenfield has acted ultra vires, in excess of and without authority, in violation of natural justice, in abrogation of the separation of powers doctrine, unlawfully, unconstitutionally; and the pronouncements that he has made are certainly null, void and of no effect. That his pronouncements and tabulations bear a striking resemblance to the contentions and calculations of the APNU+AFC have not gone unnoticed. He would make an excellent witness for the APNU+AFC at the trial of an Election Petition.”

The PPP/C explained that it was clear from the Recount Order that Lowenfield has no power, authority or mandate to offer a view, opinion, or judgement of any type, either in the Observation Reports or the Matrices to be tabulated.

It further accused the CEO of arrogating unto himself the role of an investigator, judge and executioner in clear violation of the Order, since he made conclusive findings. The findings were in relation to the “baseless allegations made by APNU+AFC, and he rendered a judgement on them by concluding that they were established, without doing any investigations, hearing no one affected, and applying principles only known to himself”.