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Since the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) resumed power on August 2, 2020, several Afro-Guyanese have been dragged before the Courts in relation to charges of alleged electoral fraud and more which has met the attention of the United States (US) Congressional Black Caucus (CBC).
Bringing its attention, today, to the developments in Guyana was the Caribbean Guyana Institute for Democracy (CGID). It appraised Members of the CBC about the PPP/C’s “war against Afro-Guyanese” and included reports on the “abuse of the police and criminal justice system” and the “ethnic cleansing” of over 123 Afro-Guyanese from the government service.
Since the PPP/C took office, several high-profile Afro-Guyanese have charged for matters all claimed to be part of a “witch-hunting” exercise. Two of the key persons are Chief Elections Officer (CEO), Keith Lowenfield and District Four Returning Officer (RO), Clairmont Mingo whom the PPP/C has promised to go any lengths to prosecute in the interest of “democracy”.
Lowenfield was first brought before the Court on July 30 to answer to three private criminal charges brought against him for alleged fraud and misconduct. The charges were filed by PPP/C Member, Desmond Morian and The New Movement (TNM) Executive, Daniel Kanhai on June 30, 2020. Lowenfield was granted $450,000 bail.
He appeared before the Georgetown Magistrates’ Court again on August 24 for the continuation of the case but was informed that, as requested by the prosecutors, his charges have since been taken over by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DDP). Lowenfield’s lawyers argue that this was done because the prosecutors have insufficient evidence and are ill-prepared to argue the charges. The Guyana Police Force (GPF) has launched a “comprehensive” investigation into both the CEO and Mingo.
Mingo was arrested by the police on August 25, 2020. His arrest came after weeks after law enforcement had been trying to serve him for his appearance in Court to answer to a private criminal charge of alleged forgery. The charge was brought against him and People’s National Congress/Reform (PNC/R) Chairperson, Volda Lawrence by current Minister of Culture, Youth and Sport, Charles Ramson Jr, for their alleged involvement in a forged Elections document with the intent to defraud the public.
On the night of his arrest, one of Mingo’s lawyers, Darren Wade, complained that he was being kept in the dark by the GPF on the arrest of their client and what will happen next. Three of Mingo’s assistants, Carolyn Mikhaik Duncan, Sheffern February and Michelle Miller, who worked closely with him, were also caught in the crosshairs and were arrested.
Meanwhile, though she was not served, Lawrence opted to attend the Georgetown Magistrates’ Court on August 24, to answer to the charge. She told the media that she had committed no crime but that the PPP/C had nonetheless laid “trumped up” against her and others in keeping with its intention to ‘witch-hunt’. She was released on $100,000 bail but the prosecutor, Glenn Hanoman, had once again requested that the DPP take over the charge which it has agreed to do. The assumption is that when you have filed the charge, you have already gathered enough evidence upon which you could have filed the charge,” Lawrence’s lawyer, Nigel Hughes told the media.
“What has now happened, is that the Director of Public Prosecutions has taken that file, clearly, realizing that they do not have enough evidence, and is now decided that she can instruct that an investigation be conducted. So, we have a lot of rather unusual developments in both of these cases.”
Before Lawrence came before the Court, former Director of Sports, Christopher Jones and former Minister of Youth Affairs, Simona Broomes, were also cased to be involved in legal proceedings. On August 17, Broomes and her body guard, Dexter Austin, were charged with several offences in relation to a confrontation they had earlier in the month with PPP/C city councilor, Dion Younge. On Broomes’ account, on August 3, she was visited by a lone male at her home who threatened to kill her and ripped off signs from the lantern poles outside of her home.
The young man allegedly spewed politically affiliated threats and then hurried to make his escape in a dark-tinted white car with two accomplices waiting for him half a block away. The former minister engaged a driver to pursue the assailant which led to later charges of threatening language, assault and causing terror for both Broomes and her driver.
Meanwhile, the driver faced an additional charge of discharging a loaded firearm within 100 yards of a public space. They were both release on bail and the matter will come up again on August 31. Over in Tucville, Georgetown, the police engaged in a stand-off with Jones over barber equipment which they claimed belonged to the State. On August 21, the police broke into his home, rejecting a court injunction and seized several boxes which they said contained the equipment. Jones was subsequently arrested and release on $100,000 station bail.
Jones’ lawyer has since indicated that he will sue State, including the GPF, for wrongful arrest and seizure of property that belongs to Jones as rightfully applied for under the Sustainable Livelihoods and Entrepreneurial Development (SLED) programme. A supervisor at a District Four station during the national recount, Enrique Livan, was also arrested today.
Observing the play of events, is the CBC, a caucus made up of most African American members of the United States Congress. The CGID has also drawn attention to “the abuse of the police and criminal justice system to victimise and persecute persons who they [the PPP/C] view as a threat” which they say could incite a 1964 type racial unrest in Guyana.