The Guyana Elections Commission this afternoon agreed to send the Chief Elections Officer Keith Lowenfield, his Deputy Roxanne Myers, and Region 4 Returning Officer Clairmont Mingo on leave pending a decision on whether the Commission will debate and decide on a motion to dismiss them.
During today’s meeting of the Elections Commission, the APNU+AFC nominated Commissioners argued that since the motion really provides for a hearing to be conducted to decide on its contents, that hearing should not be conducted by persons who have made clear their bias in the matter.
According to Commissioner Vincent Alexander, there must be natural justice.
“If the people are having a hearing, then natural justice should prevail and natural justice does not provide for people who are biased to be involved in a hearing. And when they are biased because they brought the charges and they have made public statements on how this matter should be concluded, therefore they are biased and should not be party to the hearing”, Alexander said.
Two weeks ago, the PPP Government nominated Commissioners on the Elections Commission moved a motion calling for the dismissal of the three officials over allegations about their handling of various issues during last year’s elections and their alleged involvement in fraud and misconduct in public office related to the same elections.
Those matters are currently before the Courts.
Mr. Alexander said it is clear that those who have already exhibited their views on the matter could not be expected to conduct a fair hearing in the matter. The Opposition nominated Commissioners said the Elections Commission should await the outcome of the Court matters before it even examines the motion calling for the officials to be dismissed.
According to Alexander, “what we proposed is that they could not be involved in the process of a hearing. We even said that there is the possibility that we await the Court and incorporate the Court’s decision into our process”.
Questioned about whether the statutes governing GECOM would allow for the setting up of a tribunal to look into the allegations in the motion and determine an outcome, Mr. Alexander said GECOM is governed by the laws of Guyana.
“Once you get to something called a hearing, it is the common law that steps in and the common law is unequivocal about there being no bias in such a process”, he said.
PPP Government nominated Commissioner Sase Gunraj believes that the Commission could deal with the motion that has be placed before it.
Speaking to News Source this afternoon, Mr. Gunraj said “the Opposition has suggested, advocated that GECOM should not hear the motions against these three persons and that a tribunal should be set up and that was of course vehemently objected to by the three Government Commissioners and there was a lot of back and forth on it and the Chairman has deferred her ruling on it, but in the interregnum, the three persons have been sent on leave”.
Mr. Gunraj said he is hoping a decision on how the matter will be dealt with is made soon and the Commission could move on in addressing it.
“I am hoping that a date is set in short order for a decision or ruling from the Chairman and then the motions can be debated and determined”, Gunraj said.
The GECOM Commissioner said he believes the motions before the Commission speak for themselves in relation to the issues brought against the three GECOM officials.
GECOM Chairman, retired Justice Claudette Singh has not indicated when she intends to hand down her decision on how the Commission should deal with the motions seeking to remove the three GECOM senior officials.
Just after the motions were presented to the Commission, the Chairman wrote to Chief Elections Officer and the Deputy requesting that they show cause why they should not be dismissed. The two have since responded to the Chairman.