Those who derailed, undermined March 2 polls will be held accountable – new GECOM Commissioner says
Newly appointed Commissioner to the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) Manoj Narayan has made it clear that those employees at the entity who were part and parcel of derailing and undermining the March 2 general and regional elections will be held accountable.
“Their actions are not trivial or trifling that we could sweep under the carpet and give a slap on the wrist and say we forgive you, we can’t tell them go forward and rig no more, they must be held accountable,” Narayan told the media moments after he was sworn in by President Irfaan Ali at State House on Thursday.
Narayan, an Attorney-at-law, replaces the former People’s Progressive Party’s (PPP) Commissioner Robeson Benn who resigned to serve as the Minister of Home Affairs.
“…the very survival of our electoral democracy requires that we solve those problems,” he added describing the five-month-long process as the “most heinous assault” on the country’s electoral democracy.
Without naming the Chief Elections Officer Keith Lowenfield and the Returning Officer for District Four Clairmont Mingo, the Attorney said: “they all took oaths of office under the Representation of the People’s Act and they blatantly and flagrantly breach that oath which they took and so first of all, they must be held accountable for their actions.”
Both Lowenfield and Mingo are before the court on private criminal charges filed against them in relation to perpetuating fraud at the elections.
The new GECOM Commissioner pointed to article 161 A of the Constitution of Guyana which gives GECOM the authority to institute disciplinary actions against its officers.
“Their actions are not trivial or trifling that we could sweep under the carpet and give a slap on the wrist and say we forgive you, we can’t tell them go forward and rig no more, they must be held accountable,” he added.
The results of the March 2 elections were derailed from March 5 when Mingo used figures which were inflated in favour of the APNU+AFC coalition to give them a victory.
The process was marred by several litigations and other actions in an attempt to swear in former President David Granger for a second term.
The newly appointed GECOM Commissioner pointed out that the events following the heavily disputed March 2 polls has damaged the reputation of GECOM and must not be repeated.
“We need to create policies and implement policies at the level of the Commission to insulate the Commission from these occurrences in the future,” he told the media.
Narayan added that restoring public confidence in the entity is important.
“[We] need to also rebuild the public confidence in GECOM not only locally but internationally because that has suffered a great dent from what transpired from the 2nd of March to the 2nd of August,” Narayan told the media.
President Irfaan Ali in his address following the swearing-in also alluded to the need to ascertain what obtained during the five-month electoral process.
He noted that Narayan is a young lawyer who is no newcomer to electoral matters having played an active part in the electoral cases since December 2018.
Also present at the swearing-in ceremony at State House was Chairperson of GECOM Justice (ret’d) Claudette Singh. She did not address the gathering nor did she take any questions from the media.
But the President took the opportunity to laud the former Judge for her leadership at the helm of the electoral body.
He said, “you’ve led by example, you’ve acted selflessly and Guyana, I hope at some point reflect and celebrate in some manner the work you have done.”
President Ali expressed hope that Narayan will help the Commission to advance its work.