PPP commissioners abstained during vote

THE Guyana Elections Commission has taken the decision to renew the contract of Chief Elections Officer (CEO), Keith Lowenfield, for another three years as the CEO’s contract comes to an end in March 2020.

At the Commission’s statutory meeting on Tuesday, the matter came down to a vote but Opposition-nominated Commissioners abstained. “I asked that the matter be deferred until after elections have concluded because I believe that the true test of the performance of the CEO would be these elections. The Chair disagreed and they took a decision to renew the contract,” Opposition-nominated Commissioner, Sase Gunraj said.

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There was clash of opinions on whether Gunraj’s proposal to wait should be agreed to or whether it was better to renew the CEO’s contract now. Explaining why he opted for the latter, Government-nominated Commissioner, Vincent Alexander said: “His contract is coming to an end and he has given notice of a desire for a new contract as is required by the contract itself and one would ask the question that if he’s given notice and his contract has come to an end, why do we have to delay the reappointment? In fact, to reappoint the CEO would give him the kind of environment for him to proceed without any uncertainty and doubt about his future into the elections.”

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A clause within Lowenfield’s contract states that he must give notice some three months prior to the end of his contract on whether he wishes to serve in the position under a next contract. Lowenfield has expressed his interest in serving once again but at least two Opposition-nominated commissioners indicated, since last week, that they would not support his return.

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Added to this, last Wednesday, this newspaper was made aware that the CEO’s contract requires him to take all of his leave before the end of contract and the CEO had accumulated a substantial amount of leave. The decision was therefore taken to pay him in lieu of leave so that he would continue in the position up until elections next year March.

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The full membership of GECOM back in March 2014 had decided unanimously to appointment Lowenfield to the position of Chief Elections Officer and Commissioner of National Registration. The commission’s decision had brought to an end a very lengthy and meticulous procedure associated with the matter including advertising the vacancy locally and overseas. Some fourteen persons had applied for the post.

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Meanwhile, the Commissioners hope to come to a final decision today on how the house-to-house data will be used and how the names of citizens who fail to collect their Identification (ID) cards by the elections will be dealt with. Alexander stated that it is his “sincere hope” that the matters will be finalized today as they were critical to meeting the deadlines for election.

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