ACCORDING to media reports, in exercise of its legal powers, the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) has discontinued the private criminal charges filed against Chairperson of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), Justice (Ret’d) Claudette Singh.
This was reported by the Demerara Waves and News Source on Monday. Efforts by this newspaper to contact the DPP on the matter were futile. Nonetheless, the news entities reported that the information was confirmed by DPP’s Communication Officer, Liz Rahaman.
She stated that a letter to this effect was sent from the DPP’s office by Senior Counsel Shalimar Ali-Hack to the Chief Magistrate, Ann McLennan. The letter states: “In exercise of the powers conferred on me by article 187 (1) (c) of the Constitution of the Co-operative Republic of Guyana, I hereby discontinue the charge in the above matter.”
The private criminal charges were filed against the Chairperson for alleged malfeasance in public office by two citizens in the Georgetown Magisterial District on July 29. They were all linked to the chairperson’s handling of the 2020 Elections, inclusive of the highly-controversial national recount. Based on documents seen by the Guyana Chronicle, one of the two private criminal charges was filed by Onita Walcott of Victoria Village, East Coast Demerara. In detailing the particular of the offence, Walcott alleged that Justice Singh, while acting in her official capacity as Chairman of the Elections Commission, “acted maliciously and unlawfully” on July 11, 2020 when she refused to accept the Chief Elections Officer’s Elections Report on the General and Regional Elections held on March 2, contrary to Article 177 (2) (b) of the Constitution.
A similar charge was filed by Keith Ondaan of Central Amelia’s Ward, Mackenzie, Linden. According to Ondaan, Justice Singh acted unlawfully, when she failed to heed the advice of the Chief Parliamentary Counsel, Charles Fung-a-Fatt, S.C and GECOM’s Legal Adviser.
In his sworn statement, the Lindener alleged that between March 16, 2020 and May 18, 2020, the Chairman of GECOM acted recklessly and unlawfully when she disregarded the advice of the Legal Officer of GECOM on the March 16, 2020, as well as the advice of the Chief Parliamentary Counsel Mr. Fung-a-Fatt S.C that a recount of the votes of the March 2 Regional and General Elections was unlawful and unconstitutional. It was said that Justice Singh knowingly gazetted a Recount Order in the Official Gazette on May, 4 nonetheless.
The case was expected to be heard in the Georgetown Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday, August 5, 2020. Meanwhile, the private criminal charges against Chief Elections Officer (CEO), Keith Lowenfield have not been acted upon by the DPP. The CEO was last granted $450,000 bail on July 24, following his appearance in the Georgetown Magistrates’ Court to answer to three private criminal charges brought against him for alleged fraud and misconduct. The charges were filed by People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPP/C) Member, Desmond Morian, and by General Secretary of The New Movement (TNM), Daniel Kanhai, on June 30, 2020.