‘Nation waited too long’ for Lowenfiled, Myers and Mingo to be fired – Gunraj
After weeks of delay, the votes of the three government-nominated Commissioners at the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) on Thursday led to the dismissal of Chief Elections Officer Keith Lowenfield, his Deputy Roxanne Myers and Region Four Returning Officer Clairmont Mingo.
The three opposition-nominated Commissioners abstained when the vote was taken during the virtual meeting. With the three votes in, there was then no need for Chairwoman Justice (retired) Claudette Singh to vote.
The News Room understands that termination letters will now have to be written by Justice Singh to give effect to the vote.
Lowenfield, Myers and Mingo’s dismissal will be in keeping with the stipulations of their contracts.
Commissioner Sase Gunraj said although they will be terminated with immediate effect, they will be paid all benefits due to them and in lieu of notice.
The timelines and benefits according to the contracts were not immediately known.
What is known is that Lowenfield was paid some $25 million in salary and allowances between January 2020 and March 2021.
Between January to March 2021 he received some $3.5 million in salaries; this does not include his accumulated multimillion-dollar allowances.
A monthly breakdown of Lowenfield’s allowances amounts to $120,000 for travelling, $360,000 for entertainment, $700,000 in gratuity, $1 million for vacation, $120,000 for uniform. He is also afforded a security allowance of $6 million annually.
Meanwhile, Myers draws an annual salary of $16 million, while on a monthly basis, she receives travelling and overtime allowances in the sum of $240,000; entertainment and rent $1.6 million; gratuity in the sum of $1 million; vacation $865,000 and uniform $120,000.
Although they will be paid the benefits in accordance with the contracts, Gunraj is happy they have finally been fired.
“The nation waited too long for this to happen,” he said.
Gunraj explained that the next thing is to advertise the vacancies and have the posts filled by persons who can conduct themselves with dignity and in an ethical manner.
Gunraj believes the removal of Lowenfield, Myers and Mingo would also support in large measure the successful holding of local government elections this year.
The vote for their dismissal comes three days after Lowenfield, through his Attorney Nigel Hughes, withdrew an Application made in the High Court which challenged a motion before GECOM for his dismissal.
The decision comes after more than a year of calls for the three senior functionaries at GECOM to be dismissed. In June this year, Justice Singh took a decision to have them give up access to their offices and proceed on vacation leave until GECOM concludes its investigations on the allegations of electoral fraud.
Lowenfield is currently before the court with three counts of Misconduct in Public Office, and three counts of Forgery; while Myers with two counts of Misconduct in Public Office.
Mingo is currently charged with four counts of Misconduct in Public Office, while People’s National Congress Chairperson, Volda Lawrence and Opposition activist, Carol Joseph are also before the court on electoral fraud charges.
The trio were again charged with two new charges to defraud electors in June 2021 and released on $100,000 bail.
They are accused of inflating the results of Region Four – Guyana’s largest voting district – to give the A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) Coalition a majority win at the March 2, 2020, polls when in fact, the PPP/C had won by more than 15,000 votes.