GECOM renews contract of Chief Elections Officer
The Guyana Elections Commission has renewed the contract of Chief Elections Officer (CEO), Keith Lowenfield.
Lowenfield’s contract comes to an end in March 2020, days after the next general and regional elections, however, it can be renewed within three months before it expires once the CEO indicates an interest in continuing on the job.
The contract has been renewed for three years, in accordance with the CEO’s previous contracts.
The renewal was supported by the three Government nominated Commissioners and Chairman of GECOM, retired Justice Claudette Singh at Tuesday’s statutory meeting.
The Opposition nominated commissioners abstained from voting.
Commissioner Sase Gunraj told the media following the meeting that his colleagues preferred that the contract is reviewed after the March 2, 2020, elections as this will prove the CEO’s ability to conduct a free and fair process.
“I believe that the true test in performance of the CEO would be these elections. The Chair disagreed and they took a decision to renew the contract,” Gunraj said.
On the other hand, Government nominated Commissioner Vincent Alexander did not agree with Gunraj and noted that any pending renewal of the contract may affect Lowenfield’s performance.
“In fact, to reappoint the CEO, we give him the kind of environment for him to proceed without any uncertainty and doubt about his future elections,” he said.
Alexander further questioned “why would we want to create a situation where the CEO is going into an election, challenged to do a big job, with tremendous uncertainty about his future?
“It’s almost inhumane.”
The Commission will meet again on Wednesday to discuss other topical issues including the use of house-to-house data and a measure to highlight the names of persons on the official voters’ list who have not collected their Identification Cards from GECOM.
It has been several weeks since GECOM has been discussing those two issues.
With the date for nominations day- January 10, 2020 – quickly approaching, Alexander hopes that the Commission can make a decision on Wednesday on the way forward.