Ramkarran denounces Lowenfield’s “egregious distortion” of CCJ ruling

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ANUG Presidential Candidate, Ralph Ramkarran

Senior Counsel and A New and United Guyana (ANUG) Presidential Candidate, Ralph Ramkarran, on Sunday, lashed out at Chief Elections Officer, Keith Lowenfield, for deliberately distorting the ruling of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) to suit his own partisan interests.

According to Ramkarran, the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) must not tolerate the CEO’s actions which are outside of what the law allows for and against the clear decisions handed down by the CCJ last Wednesday.

“The CCJ did not endorse the view that GECOM cannot determine credibility, that Order 60 cannot be executed in its entirety and that a final count cannot be attained. This is an egregious distortion of what the CCJ said,” Ramkarran wrote in his weekly column “Conversation Tree” published by Stabroek News.

Ramkarran posited that the CCJ ruled that after valid and invalid votes are determined during the procedures set out in Representation of the People’s Act (ROPA), any further alleged irregularities, as claimed by the incumbent APNU/AFC, must be addressed by an election petition after the results are declared.

“This has been twisted by the CEO to allege that a credible count (credible according to his and not the CCJ’s ruling) cannot be attained by the CCJ’s ruling.”

Ramkarran was at the time referring to Lowenfield’s disobedience of GECOM Chair Justice (Rtd) Claudette Singh’s clear instructions to him to submit a report based on the National Recount, which shows the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) winning the March 2, polls in excess of 15,000 votes.

Keith Lowenfield, Chief Elections Officer

Lowenfield had written the Chair asking her “how Section 96 of the Representation of the People’s Act (ROPA) could be properly operationalised”, since it says he must prepare his report based on compilations made by Returning Officers, who were not present during the recount.

Lowenfield had claimed that the Chair’s directions to him would, therefore, clash with the Act. But Ramkarran reminded him of Recount Order 60 of 2020.

According to Ramkarran, the Recount Order created special circumstances where Returning Officers were not required to compile the number of votes but rather, Secretariat staff.

He noted that the Recount Order created modifications under Section 22 (1) of the Election Laws (Amendment) Act, allowing GECOM full powers to make the changes.

Ramkarran pointed out also that the Recount Order provided for the Statements of Recount (SoR) to be used to declare the final results. And as the Chief Elections Officer, Ramkarran noted that Lowenfield ought to be aware of this more than most.

GECOM has scheduled a meeting for today, where the intransigence of the Chief Elections Officer is expected to be discussed.

The national recount had shown that the PPP/C won the elections with 233,336 votes while the A APNU/AFC coalition garnered 217,920.