Gov’t to amend laws to guard against electoral fraud; Jagdeo says Lowenfield, Myers must go
Vice-President, Dr Bharrat Jagdeo on Tuesday said that while the government has not gone ahead with setting up its promised Commission of Inquiry (CoI) to investigate the March 02, 2020 general and regional elections, it will soon take steps to amend existing laws to ensure that there are safeguards and penalties against electoral fraud.
“Right now, at this point in time, we are looking at the Representation of the People Act and we are drafting now the amendments to that Act that will ensure transparency in the count and a clear methodology as to how the count must proceed, leaving no ambiguity,” Jagdeo told reporters during a press conference at the Arthur Chung Conference Center.
He envisions that the amendments will allow for the Statements of Poll (SOPs) to be published in the newspapers, official gazette, and online before the count commences.
“So even before the count starts, industrious Guyana can see and calculate who won the elections,” the Vice-President said.
Jagdeo noted that the amendments that will be drafted soon will also clearly outline penalties for electoral fraud and how recounts must be conducted.
But even with these legislative changes, Jagdeo believes that the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) must remove from within its staff those persons who are currently before the courts on charges of being involved in attempts to rig the 2020 elections.
He singled out the Chief Elections Officer (CEO), Keith Lowenfield and his deputy, Roxanne Myers.
“With Lowenfield and Myers there, we can’t have free and fair elections. This is a red line for us. Every external group and people locally know they tried to steal the elections,” Jagdeo emphasised.
He said the government is currently looking for persons from abroad to sit on the CoI but he fears that if the report from the CoI is adverse against the APNU+AFC Coalition, then their leaders might simply disregard it by levelling claims of bribery against the government as was done during the 2020 elections.
Notwithstanding, the Vice-President said the government was definitely going ahead with the CoI.
The governing People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) has always maintained that several persons within GECOM, including Lowenfield, Myers and the Region Four Returning Officer, Clairmont Mingo, colluded to rig the elections to keep the APNU+AFC in office.
That led to a five-month-long delay in declaring the winner while political parties frequented the courts and were later were involved in a national recount exercise.
Lowenfield came under scrutiny for preparing his elections report on March 5, 2020, which included inflated figures presented to him by Mingo. If Mingo’s report was used, the country would have been cheated of the real victors of the elections – the PPP/C – and instead, David Granger and his coalition would have been sworn in for a second term.
Lowenfield and Myers would have known who the true winner of the elections was since they received the original SOPs from all of the country’s polling stations.