PSC says Lowenfield failed to address major concerns raised

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The Private Sector Commission in a letter to Chief Executive Officer of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) stated that he has failed to address the concerns which it has raised about the feasibility and credibility of a house-to-house registration exercise under the conditions which it is presently being conducted.

See full letter below:

Dear Mr. Lowenfield,

Thank you for your letter of 22nd July, 2019, and your prompt reply, in response to our letter of 21st July, 2019, on the subject of the commencement of house-to-house registration by GECOM.

You are correct in pointing out that, in fact, we had requested, on several occasions, a meeting with GECOM addressed to the Chairman and not directly to you and wish to assure you that there was no intention on our part to hold you personally responsible for GECOM’s failure to meet with us.

Our letter raised a number of both factual and technical issues with you with regard to GECOM’s intention to establish a new National Register of Registrants Database (NRRD). We raised these issues because of the fact that the current NRRD has been subject to cycles of continuous registration, under your custody, since the 2015 elections and has delivered credible National and Regional Elections and Local Government Elections in 2018.

You have, unfortunately, made no attempt in your response to explain or provide any reason for GECOM’s rush to abandon the existing NRRD.

Your response has failed to address the concerns which we have raised about the feasibility and credibility of a house-to-house registration exercise under the conditions which it is presently being conducted. GECOM is forcing this registration in isolation from all of the political parties involved, irrespective of the prior engagement of all of the relevant stakeholders, without independent scrutiny and in the absence of essential public information and education.

Your response has failed to address our questioning the credibility of GECOM’s advice to the President claiming that 200,000 entries on the NRRD should not be there on a register which is under your custody and which has benefitted from continuous registration.

Your response has also failed to address the fact that the reasonable statutory option of claims and objections would bring the National Register up-to-date in sufficient time to meet constitutionally due elections.

Your response has chosen to ignore that as CEO of the Commission, you should properly be directing your attention to your statutory duties and responsibilities to obey and comply with the decision and consequential orders of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) with regard  to the constitutional requirements of Articles 106 (6) and 106 (7).

You must be aware that the Caribbean Court has directed that, consistent with these Articles, General and Regional Elections are required to be held within three (3) months of the date of the ruling of the Court, estimated to be no later than the 18th Day of September, 2019, and that GECOM was a party to the proceedings of the Court.

Your response has also chosen to ignore the fact that GECOM’s Counsel appearing before the Caribbean Court of Justice, Mr. Stanley Marcus, SC, notified the Court that the conducting of house-to-house registration would result in General and Regional Elections not being possible before 25th December, 2019.

The behaviour of GECOM under your explicit directions has ignored the dictum of the Caribbean Court of Justice that GECOM is not above, but is subject to the Constitution and, as a consequence, must be in a state of readiness whenever elections are constitutionally due. In fact, GECOM took the policy decision to introduce the cycles of continuous registration precisely for the purpose of enabling the Commission to hold elections whenever constitutionally necessary.

We find it difficult that you would expect the nation to accept that the decision made by the Commission to conduct house-to-house registration on the 19th February, 2019, and by Order no.25 of 2019, dated 11th June, 2019, has not been overtaken and rendered otiose by the decision and consequential orders of the Caribbean Court.

We are quite frankly dismayed that you have found it convenient to be very selective in extracting excerpts from the advice received from your Legal Advisor who, as is publicly known, also advised you that house-to-house registration, in the face of the CCJ rulings, is illegal and should not be proceeded with.

While we acknowledge that you serve as a public servant and as an employee of the Commission and that you are subject to the policy directives of the Commission for your actions and behaviour, this does not exempt nor excuse you from your obligation to respect and function under the rule of law.

We, therefore, reiterate our admonition that GECOM immediately suspend the house-to-house registration and prepare itself for holding General and Regional Elections within the timeframe prescribed by the Caribbean Court of Justice.

 

Sincerely yours,

Capt. Gerald Gouveia

Chairman

 

CC: To the Media.