Lowenfield says unable to ascertain if elections were fair & credible
By Ravin Singh
GECOM’s Chief Elections Officer (CEO) Keith Lowenfield has submitted his first report to the Elections Commission on the recently-concluded national recount, informing it that he is unable to ascertain whether the March 2 polls were fair and credible.
“Finally, the summation of anomalies and instances of voter impersonation identified in [each] District clearly does not appear to satisfy the criteria of impartiality, fairness, and compliance with provisions of the Constitution and the Representation of the People’s Act Chapter 1:03.
“Consequently, on the basis of the votes counted and the information furnished from the recount, it cannot be ascertained that the results for [each] District meet the standards of fair and credible elections,” the CEO wrote in his report.
This conclusion indicts thousands of polling day staff, and Lowenfield who heads the GECOM Secretariat which was responsible for conducting the election.
His position is also in stark contrast with the Chairperson of GECOM, (ret’d) Justice Caludette Singh, who, just one day after the elections, assured the public that: “GECOM has delivered free, fair and credible elections”.
Based on the Recount Order which legally operationalized the recount, Lowenfield was not required to conduct an analysis of the elections process or draw conclusions. In fact, his role was limited to providing a summary of the Observation Reports which documented all irregularities.
Section 12 of the Order states that: “The matrices for the recount of the ten (10) Electoral Districts shall then be tabulated by the Chief Election Officer and shall be submitted in a report, together with a summary of the observation reports for each District, to the Commission.”
The APNU+AFC has made wild unsubstantiated and unproven allegations of electoral fraud after it was denied a victory which was based on fraudulent results introduced by Returning Officer of District 4, Clairmont Mingo.
Mingo’s declaration had been accepted by Lowenfield in early March, and the latter had rushed to prepare a report to declare the incumbent the winner of the elections.
But several court battles challenging Mingo’s fraudulent results triggered a national recount. That recount has since shown that the PPP won the elections by more than 15,000 votes.
Nearing the conclusion of the recount, the APNU+AFC called for the elections to be voided, even though both President David Granger and the Leader of the Opposition Bharrat Jagdeo, agreed to accept the results of the recount.
The Organisation of American States (OAS), the Carter Center, and foreign powers including the U.S, Britain, Canada, and the European Union (EU) have said that the recount results should be used to declare a winner.
The Commission will deliberate on the report, after which Lowenfield is expected to deliver a second report and a declaration made.
Ten regional declarations which were made in early March, and which handed the APNU+AFC a slim margin of victory are currently being held in abeyance.
APNU+AFC Commissioner, Vincent Alexander has said though that those declarations will be replaced by the recount results.