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Last Saturday the Guyana Police Force held the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) Chief Election Officer (CEO), Keith Lowenfield, on another allegation relating to the 2nd March General and Regional Elections. The Police in its statement said Mr. Lowenfield had a confrontation with a witness in the presence of his lawyer and “once again he opted to remain silent.” On Sunday, the CEO’s Attorney, Mr. Nigel Hughes, released a statement which answered the question, “who was the witness?” According to Mr. Hughes’ statement, the witness was an activist of the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) and polling agent.
This entire brouhaha with Mr. Lowenfield and the Police has become a charade, even the blind could see. Mr. Hughes in his statement said the pursuit of the CEO has “The unambiguous intention …to have him classified as a tainted witness at the time of any possible testimony in the conduct of the Election Petition cases.” Mr. Hughes’ perspective cannot be faulted. The way the police are going after Mr. Lowenfield could be said it is aimed not only to discredit him but also put a financial strain on him. He was placed on station bail Saturday, though the amount was not revealed. What is known is that in July when he was charged his bail was $450,000.00. If it is a case where the police are hoping bail cannot be raised and they would get an opportunity to place Mr. Lowenfield in the lockups they need to disabuse themselves of that tactic quickly.
People are beginning to express unease that the not so pleasant days of policing have returned. They feel the Force has lost the professionalism it was encouraged to cultivate during the time of Minister of Public Security, Mr. Khemraj Ramjattan. Some feel the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) under its present head has cast aside professionalism or acting on political directive. Others have argued were the police serious about allegations of fraud or other criminal conduct during the elections they should not be ignoring the GECOM polling staff who were responsible for those 47 plus ballot boxes. Those boxes were without any statutory documents and from the lower East Coast Demerara, a PPP/C stronghold.
In the so-called investigation the CID conveys a transparency which would have been laughable were it not embarrassingly putting on display a Force obsessed with harassment and violating the rights of the accused. The CID is solidifying the perception its interest is not in unlawful acts. They are yet to investigate the storming of the GECOM Building and calling those lawless persons in for questioning. Members of their own ranks were threatened by a prominent lawyer, the fear evident in their faces, but he had not been called in for questioning. All these incidents were recorded and could be accessed to facilitate an investigation, this is assuming the Force has a genuine interest in law and order.
The CID has to be mindful of being seen as given one directive, dare it be said political, to go after Mr. Lowenfield. Evidently, were there a desire to break the CEO’s spirit, opposition to this is gathering speed. There is a growing cadre of supporters, who at a moment’s notice, will rally to Mr. Lowenfield’s side. Were there any intention to embarrass, demean or humiliate the CEO it will not work. Citizens no longer feel the police are about getting to the truth.
The continued harassment of Mr. Lowenfield has made him a folk hero. He is seen as a hero for keeping his cool and refusing to buckle to what some think is a tactic the police are using. His continued silence, until he bears witness in an Election Petition if necessary, is deeply admired and seen as befitting someone with a character of steel.