Lowenfield has no power to determine validity of votes – Mendes tells COA

Chief Elections Officer Keith Lowenfield
Chief Elections Officer Keith Lowenfield

Trinidadian Senior Counsel, Douglas Mendes, who is representing PPP/C General Secretary Bharrat Jagdeo and Presidential Candidate Dr Irfaan Ali, has argued before the Court of Appeal that Chief Elections Officer Keith Lowenfield cannot arbitrarily determine which law is valid or not.

Mendes noted by reverting to the Returning Officers’ declarations of March 13, the CEO violated the Separation of Powers Doctrine in which it states that a member of the Executive Arm cannot determine the validity of laws. He furthered that Lowenfield is duty-bound to use the recount figures and by acting in clear defiance of the instructions, the CEO essentially provided the grounds on which the Misenga Jones case was brought to the court.

He said that the issues with the legality of the recount should be addressed by the way of an Elections Petition before a duly constituted Election Court.

Additionally, Mendes argued that if the Court were to come to the unlikely conclusion that the recount was unlawful and that Lowenfield was right to use the declarations of the 10 Returning Officers then it would also be it would be obliged to consider all challenges to the legality of the declarations which have been put before the Court.

Those include the challenges which were brought by Jagdeo and Ali where they contended that the Clairmont Mingo declaration is fraudulent and that any report based on it is likewise fraudulent and unlawful.

The figures from the 33-day recount exercise show the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) with a landslide victory having secured 233,336 votes while the APNU/AFC obtained 217,920 votes – a difference of some 15,416 votes. For the new parties, the numbers are as follows: A New and United Guyana – 2313; Change Guyana –1953; Liberty and Justice Party – 2657; People’s Republic Party – 889; The Citizen’s Initiative – 680; The New Movement – 244; and the United Republican Party – 360.

Lowenfield was yesterday hauled before the courts to answer to three private criminal charges in relation to conspiracy to commit fraud, breach of public trust and misconduct of public office.

He was released on $450,000 bail and is expected to make his next court appearance on August 14.