Letter: Miserable, disappointing performance of senior administrative staff at GECOM Secretariat

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Dear Editor,

Many justifications exist for a detailed review of the 2020 March to August events involving the miserable and disappointing performance of senior administrative and other key staff in the Secretariat of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM).

Full exposure of this performance is necessary, and should be effectively addressed by the appointment of a neutral Commission of Enquiry. Notwithstanding, even the most cursory examination of the despicable and flagrant failures highlights alarming reasons for the nationwide concerns that necessitate and demand swift remedial actions.

In this framework, it is crucial to recognise the constitutional role and responsibility of the Chairwoman and Commissioners appointed to the GECOM Commission, as they possess the legal authority to ensure the conduct of GECOM staff concerning elections’ matters is upheld within the constitutional parameters. This position is enshrined in Section 162 of the Constitution, Cap. 1.01, which states:

“(1)The Elections Commission shall have such functions connected with or relating to the registration of electors or the conduct of elections as are conferred upon it by or under this Constitution or, subject thereto, any Act of Parliament; and, subject to the provisions of this Constitution, the Commission – (a) shall exercise general direction and supervision over the registration of electors and the administrative conduct of all elections of members of the National Assembly; and (b) shall issue such instructions and take such action as appear to it necessary or expedient to ensure impartiality, fairness, and compliance with the provisions of this Constitution or of any Act of Parliament on the part of persons exercising powers or performing duties connected with or relating to the matters aforesaid.”

It therefore contradicts logic and rationality that the Commission’s lack of action and slothful disposition has not yet confronted the conundrum of flagrant impartiality, brutal unfairness, and noncompliance executed by some of its key staff members in the National and Regional Elections. Of note, these events, following the smoothly conducted voting process on March 2, 2020, were dragged on for over five months to August 2020. Along the way, Chief Elections Officer (CEO) Keith Lowenfield openly defied the directions of Chairwoman Justice (retired) Madam Claudette Singh, after both the courts and the Commission had ruled on related matters brought before them.

A central aspect of the plot which stands out as evidence of the CEO’s contentious vulgarity is his clandestine failure to produce copies of the Statements of Poll in support of an accurate verification of the votes cast at polling places on Elections Day. In his sub-optimal supervision of the operational procedures of GECOM, that should have ensured the attainment of the institution’s constitutional mandate, there is much evidence to support his conclusive brutal assault on the receipt and use of these key instruments to ensure effective validation of the elections’ results.

The surreptitious manoeuvres which produced the false spreadsheet and fictitious tally were accommodated by Mr Lowenfield, who had the absolute scope of review and correction. Through his seemingly and somewhat pretentious tantrums of feigned responsibility, he attempted to disguise the glaring measures of thieving corroboration with the PNC/R’s crookery, which resulted in the unnecessary expenditure of billions of taxpayers’ dollars.

Editor, an abundance of public evidence informs the subsequent court proceedings filed against some GECOM officials by the Commissioner of Police, who acted in concert with the approval of the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP). The basis of these charges is certainly hinged on the failure of the CEO and other persons under his supervision to produce the certified copies of the Statements of Poll (SoPs) that were in the possession of GECOM’s electoral officials. Not only is this position overwhelmingly alarming and serious, but it is also ridiculous that the Commission still seems uncertain of what is required amidst this plethora of evidence.

Our nation must demand that all fraudsters and riggers be sent home and removed from the payroll of GECOM.

Of significance, Police Commissioner Nigel Hoppie and DPP Shalimar Ali-Hack are seeking orders compelling the Registrar of the High Court to disclose certified copies of the 2nd March National and Regional Elections’ SoPs that are in the possession of the Registrar. The certified copies of these SoPs and the Statements of Recount are necessary to prove that the figures submitted by Mingo and Lowenfield did not reflect the results of the true election. The DPP’s affidavit asserts that these documents will prove the defendants’ guilt in criminal offences, and will confirm that the defendants deliberately ignored the correct votes and made false declarations in the furtherance of a deliberate conspiracy.

Further, Keith Lowenfield is presently facing the court on three counts of forgery and three counts of misconduct in public office. He has been placed on $300,000 bail, while his deputy, Ms Myers, is slapped with two counts of misconduct in public office and has been placed on $300,000 bail concerning both charges. Region Four Returning Officer Clairmont Mingo is on $600,000 bail for charges related to his wilful and serious derelictions.

Further, several other GECOM officials, including Denise Bob-Cummings, Michelle Miller, Elections Officer Shefern February and Information Technology Officer Enrique Livan, are all facing electoral fraud charges and are currently on bail.

Besides, Lowenfield shamelessly and falsely reported to the Commission that the PPP/C gained 166,343 votes and that the APNU/AFC gained 171,825 votes. The fully televised and certified results from the recount exercise supervised by GECOM along with a high-level team from the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) revealed that the PPP/C won with 233,336 votes while the Coalition received 217,920 votes.

It is therefore quite disgusting that with all of this overwhelming evidence of absolute wrongdoing, GECOM has taken no meaningful remedial action regarding staff involved in the obvious corruption.

This is a very serious matter, given that Local Government Elections are constitutionally due this year, and the Commission cannot reasonably expect the nation to be subjected to the same affront by these corrupt staff. It is therefore imperative that all of these persons charged and placed before the courts be removed from GECOM immediately. Our citizens will not accept that these GECOM staff members, along with many others – who were part of the rigging and who deliberately made sinister efforts to derail the elections – are still on the job.

The actions and performance of GECOM in this setting warrant a full investigation on the many burning issues, including instructions that were given to the ‘Presiding Officers’ on the East Coast of Demerara in respect to the placements of the voting day documents.

It is clear that the PNC had a plan to derail the Elections if they cannot win on the East Coast of Demerara, and many of their planted henchmen hiding out in the GECOM Secretariat complied.

Sincerely,
Neil Kumar