GECOM CEO claims he was with his lawyer

first_imgAlleged disappearing act– avoided taking calls for hours as objection deadline nearedGuyana Elections Commission (GECOM) Chief Elections Officer Keith Lowenfield has revealed that his lawyer is his alibi for him being unavailable for hours prior to the deadline for nominators’ names to be removed from disputed lists.Lowenfield was asked about his whereabouts on September 26, 2018, when desperate attempts to reach him failed. At the time he supposedly went missing, persons were reportedly being prevented from removing their names from nominator lists they claim they were fraudulently included on.This has since resulted in another court challenge being filed against GECOM, where one Shafraz Beekham and 49 other persons are seeking the removal of their names. Commenting on the matter, the CEO claimed that Beekham was not on any list, but declined to elaborate further until a “later date.”As regards his absence, Lowenfield claimed that he was in a meeting with his lawyer on the exact date of the deadline for persons to remove their names. The CEO further explained that during these meetings, he customarily turns off his phone.GECOM CEO Keith Lowenfield“I receive daily about 550 calls, not only from Commissioners. I deal with all Guyanese who call me… the [Returning Officers] ROs were adhering to the letter of the law. So I don’t know what was there that the Commissioners couldn’t find me to clarify. I’ll tell you where I went. I was taken to court on the issue of gerrymandering.”“The new legal system says we have to go through your lawyer and supply an affidavit to them to submit. Now my affidavit was supposed to have been submitted. So I had to make time to ensure that I can make a defence of the office of CEO, even while nominations are going on… when I’m with the lawyer, I’m not taking calls, because I have a [Deputy Chief Elections Officer] DCEO, an ACEO, ROs. If the issue is no Lowenfield, no elections, I want to dispel that.”Lowenfield went on to insist that GECOM has a structure and that even if persons could not reach him, they had the option of making contact with his Deputy Chief Elections Officer or any other subordinate official for assistance.But in the court documents of the aforementioned case, it is noted that when contacted, DCEO Roxanne Myers had deferred the candidates’ complaints to Lowenfield, who she also could not reach. Notwithstanding this contradiction, Lowenfield struck a defiant note to the political parties, aggrieved candidates and nominators who complained of his absence.“I don’t have to be standing at the beck and call of anyone to say what the processes are. Anybody! The law is clear. I don’t know why you (media) wrote that I was lost… disappearing act at the eleventh hour. From Nomination Day the contestants ought to know the rules of the game as they are. Those are the rules, not my rules. The law says that.”“Prior to Nomination Day, we explained to the contestants the criteria and all the subsets, I mentioned before, that today (Nomination Day) you submit, you submit in two copies, the original stays here, we affix in a conspicuous location your copies so that all and sundry can see this list belongs to (respective party). The law says that. And everything we did to bring closure to the nomination process is fixated in the laws.”It had been reported previously that at a meeting between Commissioners on September 25, 2018, it was confirmed that the deadline for the submission of the statutory affidavits to remove names that were fraudulently added to lists was at 23:55h on September 26, 2018.That was before these electors reportedly received a hard time from Returning Officers who reportedly refused to remove person’s names from the list when requested. This is despite the fact that these persons complained of either being tricked into signing the lists or their signatures even being forged.To compound the matter, the CEO was allegedly out of touch, absent from his office and could not be reached personally or by telephone to give any directions to the offending ROs after 14:30h on September 26.In the absence of the CEO, the DCEO, Roxanne Myers, was reportedly contacted in her office and indicated that she could not give any instructions to the ROs without first conferring with the CEO of GECOM who she was also unable to contact.Meanwhile, Lowenfield informed the media that ballots, Statements of Poll and tally sheets are currently being prepared for November 12 election day. He related that the official lists of voters’ total 573,923 electors and that there will be 1684 polling stations in use across the 80 Local Authority Areas.last_img read more

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