See full statement from the Peoples Progressive Party Civic (PPP/C) in response to the statement issued by Chief Elections Officer Keith Lowenfield:
In what is the most blatant and public attempt at elections rigging yet, Keith Lowenfield acting in concert with APNU/AFC, issued a release seeking to justify his criminal attempt to disenfranchise more than 115,000 voters who cast their vote at the March 2, 2020 elections.
He falsely claims that the Elections Commission’s function is to provide “policy” and “guidance to the Chief Election Officer for the implementation of the Secretariat.” This is simply an untruth.
Section 18 of the Elections Law (Amendment) Act 2000 states: The Chief Election Officer and the Commissioner of Registration shall notwithstanding anything in any written law be subject to the direction and control of the Commission.
Additionally, Order 60/2020 upon which he and APNU/AFC rely states in pertinent part as follows:
14. The Commission shall, after deliberating on the report at paragraph 12, determine whether it should request the Chief Election Officer to use the data compiled in accordance with paragraph 12 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 ……
15. For the avoidance of any doubt, the Chief Election Officer and every person appointed or authorized to perform any act or functions by virtue of this Order, are and shall remain subject to the general supervisory power of the Commission.
From the foregoing alone it is clear that Lowenfield is subject to the direction and control of the Commission at all material times and he has abysmally failed to do so.
That the Commission enjoys an overarching power over the entire electoral process and its officers, including the Chief Election Officer, to rectify any wrong or illegality or irregularity committed is expressed in both Article 162(1)(b) of the Constitution and Section 22 of the Election Laws Amendment Act.
Importantly Article 162(1)(b) clearly states that: the that the Election Commission 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 (i.e. the administrative conduct of elections).
Accordingly, Mr. Lowenfield’s position is simply untenable. We reiterate that he is part of a larger conspiracy to commit elections fraud.
No law gives Mr. Lowenfield the power to do what he attempted do, a fact he well knows. Mr. Lowenfield is not a constitutional officer holder as he claims in his release, since the office of the Chief Election Officer is not created by the constitution. It is created by the Representation of the People Act. The Chief Election Officer is hired by the Commission.
He is therefore a statutory contractual officer of the Commission and his mandate is to only act upon the directions of the Commission. He has no power to invalidate a single vote, moreover 115,000 votes. Even the Commission has no power to invalidate votes. That is the preserve of the High Court moved by an election petition after the declaration of the final results upon the presentation of evidence.
Moreover, his reliance on the Court of Appeal’s judgment is also conveniently misplaced in furtherance of his scheme to defraud the electorate. At no point did the Court of Appeal rule that the Chief Election Officer could unilaterally determine the valid votes cast in the election.
The Court of Appeal certainly did not empower Mr. Lowenfield to disenfranchise voters. Indeed as much as we have an issue with the Court of Appeal’s ruling, to their credit, Justice Reynolds resided the power in the Commission, not the Chief Election Officer, to determine final and credible results. In any event the Court of Appeal’s decision was stayed and was not in effect at the time. Accordingly, on those bases alone Lowenfield’s attempt to hide behind the Court of Appeal’s judgment in committing electoral fraud must be discarded.
APNU/AFC is clearly part of Mr. Lowenfield’s scheme to commit these criminal acts. The Attorney General, who ought to be an independent and impartial constitutional officer holder in the current proceedings at the CCJ, as part of that conspiracy, attempted to justify Mr. Lowenfield’s conduct at yesterday’s CCJ hearing, showcasing to the world the conspiracy at work.
This latest incident is merely only a part of APNU/AFC, and now their surrogate Lowenfield’s sordid history, in attempting to justify their actions under the colour of the law and constitutionality.
The unilateral appointment of the Chairman of GECOM, later declared unconstitutional and illegal by the CCJ; the several attempts to unlawfully remove tens of thousands of Guyanese electors from the national database and the attempt to use Mingo’s
spreadsheet as an instrument to fraudulently gift to APNU/AFC over 20,000 votes are just some examples of such and they were all declared unlawful by the court.
Like all the above unlawful excesses that have failed, we promise the people of Guyana that we will do everything possible to ensure that this latest attempt suffers the same fate.