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Chief Elections Officer (CEO) Keith Lowenfield, on Monday, withdrew an application against the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), which had challenged a motion intended to have him dismissed from Office.
High Court Judge, Justice Jo Ann Barlow was expected to hand down her judgement in the case – Keith Lowenfield-v-the Guyana Elections Commission – on Monday, however, Lowenfield, through his Attorney Nigel Hughes informed the Court of his decision to withdraw the application.
The decision to withdraw comes days after GECOM, through its Attorney Kim Kyte-Thomas, laid before the Court an amended motion. Lowenfield had initially challenged the motion tabled by Election Commissioner Sase Gunraj to have him dismissed with immediate effect, and in the absence of fair hearing.
However, last Wednesday, Kyte-Thomas, informed the Court that the motion has been amended to have the Chief Elections Officer “dismissed with notice” rather than “with immediate effect.”
Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission, Justice (Ret’d) Claudette Singh, in her Affidavit in Answer, told the Court that Clause 9 of Lowenfield’s Contract of Employment provides two bases for his termination of service.
It was explained that the contract stipulates that the services of the CEO may be terminated by way of a three month notice, “if in the reasonable opinion of Guyana Elections Commission, the Chief Elections Officer/Commissioner of Registration is guilty of misconduct; if in the reasonable opinion of Guyana Elections Commission, the Chief Elections Officer/Commissioner of Registration has failed to comply with the terms of his contract; or where in the reasonable opinion of Guyana Elections Commission, the Chief Elections Officer/Commissioner of Registration is in breach of any clause or obligation in this contract.”
Justice (Ret’d) Singh added: “The second basis pursuant to Clause 10 is that the Applicant’s contract may be terminated without notice for gross misconduct, provided that, the Applicant must be given a written notice setting out clearly the reason for the termination of his contract and be given an opportunity to respond.”
According to the GECOM Chair, the Elections Commission instituted the second basis for termination, and Lowenfield responded as required. She indicated too that on July 22, 2021, the Commission amended the Motion to include termination in accordance with Claude 9 of the Contract. That amended motion is still to be deliberated upon.
Justice (Ret’d) Singh told the Court that the amended Motion has changed the circumstances of the matter and would have also overtaken the basis of Lowenfield’s application.
“I contend that the applicant has not suffered, neither will he suffer, any breach of natural justice or a fair hearing,” she said while noting that the method of termination adopted by GECOM is contractually provided for.