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…GECOM chair clarifies that CEO applied, granted leave
Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), Justice (Ret’d) Claudette Singh has debunked a Guyana Chronicle report which stated that she had sent Chief Elections Officer, Keith Lowenfield on leave to facilitate allegations of elections fraud.
Speaking with Village Voice News Monday morning Singh said that the report is inaccurate disclosing that Lowenfield had applied for his leave, which she approved.
Singh said too that Lowenfield proceeded on his leave prior to the police laying charges against him.
“He proceeded on leave before the charges. He had 141 days of outstanding leave and according to a Government circular all public servants had to take their leave. He is getting his pay and all his benefits. He proceeded on his leave. He applied for it and I approved it and informed the Commission about it,” Justice Singh emphasised.
With Lowenfield on leave, Deputy CEO, Roxanne Myers is performing the duties of his office.
Asked whether she was under pressure to send staff on leave due to a statement by the Private Sector Commission over the weekend, Justice Singh answered in the negative, emphasizing that she does not take orders from the PSC.
The Private Sector Commission (PSC) on Saturday called for the removal of several senior officials of the Guyana Elections Commission’s (GECOM) ahead of Local Government Elections (LGE).
“It is unthinkable and certainly unacceptable that GECOM should proceed to conduct Local Government Elections while these officers remain employed and involved in the conducting of these elections,” the PSC said.
The PSC had called on the GECOM Chair to “speak out and speak plainly about the action being taken to put right all that has gone wrong in GECOM and to do it quickly.”
Lowenfield, Deputy Chief Elections Officer Roxanne Myers; Region Four Returning Officer, Clairmont Mingo; Information Technology Officer, Enrique Livan and Registration Officer, Sheffern February were all charged with offences related to electoral fraud in the March 2, 2020 General and Regional Elections.
“Nevertheless, as far as we know, none of these officers have been dismissed from their employment with GECOM, nor have they been suspended from duty,” the PSC said noting that Justice Singh ought not use the Election Petition brought by the APNU+AFC coalition as a basis for not taking action.
“The Election Petition cannot be used as a means of delaying or postponing GECOM’s preparedness to hold an election,” the PSC said adding that should GECOM fail to prepare properly for LGE the country stands to be under threat for political instability.