Amended motions submitted for removal of GECOM trio
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PPP/C GECOM Commissioner, Bibi Shadick
PPP/C GECOM Commissioner, Bibi Shadick

THE pro-government representatives of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) have officially submitted their amended motion which seeks to have the contracts of three key GECOM employees terminated. Those employees are the Chief Elections Officer, Keith Lowenfield; his deputy, Roxanne Myers; and the District Four Returning Officer, Clairmont Mingo. It has been almost 17 months since the embattled three have been accused of attempting to thwart the outcome of the elections. Despite being criminally charged on various counts of electoral fraud, allegedly committed during the March 2, General and Regional Elections, Lowenfield, Myers and Mingo remain at their posts.
Initially, the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Commissioners had filed three separate motions which sought to have the embattled trio dismissed from their respective positions at GECOM. However, as the hearing on these motions continued to face delays, the PPP/C commissioners sought to have them amended to also consider the termination of contracts, which is catered for in the employment agreements of all three employees.

Chief Elections Officer (CEO), Keith Lowenfield

PPP/C Commissioner and Attorney-at-Law, Bibi Shadick, had previously explained that with the amendments, GECOM has been presented with more options of ridding itself of Lowenfield, Myers and Mingo. “We are not removing the option of dismissal; we are doing this as an alternative to say that if the Commission does not find [grounds] to dismiss [Lowenfield, Myers and Mingo], then there is the possibility of terminating their contracts,” Shadick told the Guyana Chronicle during a previous interview. She further opined that, based on all the evidence that is currently before it, “The Commission can very well choose to dismiss” the trio.
Reflecting on the motions piloted by herself, and PPP/C colleagues Sase Gunraj and Manoj Narayan, Shadick said that the submissions call for Lowenfield, Myers and Mingo to be summarily dismissed, based on the fact that they are statutory officers who were guilty of breaching the law.
Shadick reminded that should the officers be dismissed, they would still be afforded the opportunity of seeking legal recourse, “because there are legal remedies available to them”.
Nonetheless, should GECOM pursue the termination of their contacts instead of having them dismissed, the three officers could still stand to benefit, or, as Shadick termed it, “be rewarded for bad behaviour,” since they could have their contracts terminated, and still be able to capitalise on the payments offered in lieu of notice.

SIGNIFICANTLY LIMITED

Deputy Chief Elections Officer, Roxanne Myers

The attorney-at-law noted, however, that once a person’s contract is terminated, their legal options would be significantly limited, since the option is clearly outlined in their contracts, and “an employer cannot be forced into hiring an employee” it does not want to hire. “At the end of the day, though, our goal is that they [Lowenfield, Myers and Mingo] must not work in the secretariat of GECOM anymore. Either option will achieve that result,” Shadick said. She reminded also, that following the filing of the dismissal motions, Lowenfield had moved to the courts to prevent her and her colleague Sase Gunraj from debating and voting on the issue, since it was the latter who had brought the motion, and she who had seconded it.
During GECOM’s previous meeting, the opposition-nominated Commissioners had walked out of the engagement in support of Lowenfield’s arguments.
On the other hand, Shadick, a former PPP/C government minister rubbished Lowenfield’s arguments, referencing the fact that the National Assembly allows a member to move, debate and vote on motions. “That is how it is,” Shadick insisted. It must be noted, however, that due to the construct of GECOM, which has three nominated commissioners representing each of the two major political parties, the ultimate success of the motions rests on the vote of GECOM’s Chairperson, who, in this case, is Justice (ret’d) Claudette Singh.

It was in June, more than a year after the elections, that the PPP/C-nominated commissioners tabled the three motions seeking the “immediate dismissal” of Lowenfield, Myers and Mingo.
As it is, Lowenfield is faced with three counts of Misconduct in Public Office, and three counts of Forgery, while Mingo was charged with four counts of Misconduct in Public Office, and Myers with two counts of Misconduct in Public Office. In addition to Lowenfield, Mingo and Myers, Chairperson of the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR), Volda Lawrence; Opposition activist, Carol Joseph; the CEO’s clerks, Michelle Miller and Denise Bob-Cummings; Elections Officer, Shefern February, and Information Technology Officer, Enrique Livan, were also charged. They are all 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 15,000 votes. Based on the events of the 2020 elections, President, Dr. Irfaan Ali, has insisted that it is not wise for Guyana to have any other elections over which Lowenfield, Myers and Mingo are allowed to preside. It is for this reason that the Head of State has refrained from announcing a date for the country’s Local Government Elections, even though $1.1 billion has already been budgeted in 2021 for this purpose.

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