‘Shockingly brazen attempts’ made by Lowenfield, Myers, Mingo to hijack elections – COI report finds

The Commission of Inquiry (COI) into the General Elections of March 2, 2020, has found that ‘shockingly brazen attempts’ were made by Chief Elections Officer (CEO), Keith Lowenfield; Deputy Chief Elections Officer (DCEO), Roxanne Myers; and Returning Officer (RO), Clairmont Mingo, to derail and corrupt the statutorily prescribed procedure for the counting, ascertaining, and tabulation of votes for the election.

The report also found the trio guilty of attempting to stymie the declaration of the election results for the purpose of ‘stealing’ the elections.

Chairman of the Commission of Inquiry (COI), Retired Justice of Appeal, Stanley John handed over the report to President, Dr Mohamed Irfaan Ali, at his Shiv Chanderpaul Drive office on Wednesday, April 26, 2023.

Chairman of the Commission of Inquiry (COI), Retired Justice of Appeal, Stanley John, handing the official report to President, Dr Mohamed Irfaan Ali, at the Office of the President, Shiv Chanderpaul Drive, on Wednesday

Free and fair elections, as the lifeblood of democracy… must be zealously guarded and protected. As such, any circumstance or event which could have led, or led and affected the declaration of the results of the election, had implications for democracy, and for the welfare of the citizens.

“It was thus imperative that there be [an] inquiry into the events that followed the holding of the elections on March 2, 2020,” Dr Ali expressed.

He reminded that the COI was also mandated to make recommendations fit and necessary to permit the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) to discharge its statutory functions in an impartial, fair, and compliant manner with the constitution, as well as relevant legislation.

The president commended the commissioners for their hard work by efficiently accepting and executing their responsibilities.

“To all those who championed this cause in Guyana, throughout the region… to all the professionals who stood tall, remained impartial, and executed the responsibility that is expected of them in holding public office, I say to you, thank you for all the work you have done.

“To those who sidestep, sidetrack, in an open way, did not comply with what is expected of them in public office, you not only do yourself harm, and this is looking into the future also. This is something we must all learn from, but you do your country, and our region harm,” President Ali stressed.

He reminded holders of public office to contemplate their actions while in office, as their actions reflect them, as well as the country and the people they serve.

The head of state reiterated his gratitude to those who stood up for democracy and the rule of law.

The COI’s Chairman also thanked those who cooperated with the inquiry, as well as those who worked tirelessly to ensure the completion of the report.

The tabulation of the results of the March 2, 2020, General and Regional Elections was marred by controversy and allegations of attempts to frustrate the democratic will of the electorate.

This led to several legal challenges, both in the local and regional judiciaries, condemnation by international agencies and foreign countries, and an inordinate delay in the declaration of the results.

After three months, the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) was declared to be the winner of the elections and sworn in on August 2, 2020.

In his inauguration address, President Ali indicated that there would be a review of the events to determine exactly what transpired, and to hold accountable those who sought to pervert and corrupt the system.

In pursuance of that objective, he appointed the Presidential Commission of Inquiry into the events of March 2, 2020, on September 13, 2022.

The commission began its public sittings in November 2022 and received the cooperation of several persons and agencies.

President Ali has since committed to acting upon the recommendations made by the COI.

The official report has since been released to the public and will be laid in the National Assembly.

Vice President, Dr Bharrat Jagdeo; Prime Minister Brigadier (Ret’d) Mark Phillips; Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Mohabir Anil Nandlall, SC; Minister of Parliamentary Affairs and Governance, Gail Teixeira, and Speaker of the National Assembly, Manzoor Nadir, were among those present at the handing over ceremony.