Election Commissioner Sase Gunraj has accused former GECOM Chief Election Officer (CEO), Keith Lowenfield of repeatedly defying the orders of the Guyana Elections Commission to provide an accurate report of the outcome of the 2020 Elections following the historic National Recount.
Commissioner Gunraj made the damning allegation when he appeared before the Commission of Inquiry which is looking into the 2020 controversial elections.
Faced with a series of legal actions filed by the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) during the early stages of the five-month long elections, the Elections Commission, following an agreement by then President David Granger and then Leader of the Opposition, Bharrat Jagdeo, agreed to facilitate a National Recount.
Under the eyes of a special group of CARICOM observers, the recount was conducted at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre from May 6, 2020 to June 9, 2020.
Commissioner Gunraj told the Presidential Commission of Inquiry that the Chairman of the Elections Commission, Justice (Ret’d) Claudette Singh ordered the CEO to submit a report based on the recount.
However, in submitting the report, he said the CEO invalidated almost 60% of the votes cast, and informed the Elections Commission that he was unable to ascertain that the elections were credible and impartial.
“In that report, he gave a victory to the APNU+AFC coalition, and quite interestingly, the margin of victory was even greater than that which was fraudulently declared by Clairmont Mingo,” Mr Gunraj told the Commission.
He explained further that 67% of the remaining votes were given to the then ruling A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) Coalition, while 30.5% was allotted to the PPP/C in Lowenfield’s initial report.
According to the Mr Gunraj, the majority of the Commission, including its Chairman, rejected the report by Mr Lowenfield. He was then ordered again to produce a report based on the results of the national recount, but though a meeting was scheduled for the acceptance of the report, the CEO was a no-show, Gunraj recalled.
It was noted that following a ruling of the Court of Appeal, the CEO submitted another report, but again invalidated over 115,000 votes.
“In the first report to which I referred the CEO disregarded almost 300,000 votes. There about 416,000 odd votes cast in the elections, and the CEO’s report, to which I previously alluded, he only considered 185,000 odd votes to be valid. So, in the first report, he would have disregarded just under 300,000 votes…in his explanation he disregarded those as being not valid,” Mr Gunraj explained.
It was further stated that on July 8, 2020, the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) handed down a decision in the matter, and the CEO was again ordered to produce a report reflecting the valid votes cast as recorded on the Certificate of Recount but he failed to meet the July 10 deadline.
Instead of submitting a report, the CEO sought clarification from the Commission, Gunraj said.
The report was submitted on July 11, 2020 and featured the results of votes declared by the Region Four Returning Officer (RO), Clairmont Mingo back in March, 2020.
Mr Gunraj said the Election Commission, on July 13, 2020 set aside all previous declarations, and again asked the CEO to produce a report on the elections based on the votes generated during the recount. But again, the CEO failed to comply with the deadline.
The GECOM Commissioner who is also an Attorney said it was not until the Court of Appeal handed down another judgment on July 30, 2020 that Mr Lowenfield submitted the correct report from the recount, resulting in the PPP being elected to office.