The Guyana Elections Commis-sion (Gecom) has unanimously chosen Keith Lowenfield to be the new Chief Election Officer.
Lowenfield, who has been functioning as acting Deputy Chief Election Officer, was one of four persons shortlisted for the post from the 14 applications made to the Commission.
The acting Chief Election Officer Calvin Benn was also shortlisted but withdrew his application for the post at the start of this week, citing health reasons.
In a statement issued yesterday, Gecom said its full membership decided unanimously
on the appointment of Lowenfield to the position of Chief Election Officer and Commissioner of National Registration, at a Special Meeting in the Commission’s Boardroom.
It said that the decision has brought to an end a very lengthy and meticulous procedure. The post became vacant with the decision against renewing the contract of Gocool Boodoo last year, over an error made during the calculation of the results of the 2011 general elections.
Gecom identified the other two shortlisted candidates as Savitri Singh, of Washington, USA, and Danville Davidson of Jamaica (and not former Jamaica Elections Director Danville Walker, as Stabroek News had incorrectly stated in a number of reports).
Singh and Davidson were interviewed by the Commission via Skype.
Benn, Gecom noted, was not interviewed because he tendered a letter, dated March 10, 2014, informing that he was no longer interested in the post.
“Mr. Benn submitted in his letter that he had engaged in some serious reflection during a recent period of illness and has concluded that it would be unwise for him to compete for the position of Chief Election Officer,” the statement said.
Immediately following the Commission’s decision, Gecom said Lowenfield was summoned to the meeting and informed accordingly. Further Gecom Chairman Dr. Steve Surujbally took the opportunity to congratulate Lowenfield on being appointed to head the Com-mission’s Secretariat and expressed his confidence in his (ability to honour the responsibilities of the position of Chief Election Officer. All of the Commission-ers also took the opportunity to congratulate Lowenfield and wish him well in his new position, the statement added.
Responding to the sentiments expressed by Dr. Surujbally and the Commissioners, Lowenfield was reported as having thanked them individually and collectively for the confidence that the Commission has placed in him through its decision to appoint him to the position. He also undertook to carry out the relevant duties to the best of his abilities without fear, favour and discrimination.
When contacted, Lowenfield later told Stabroek News that he has not yet received an official confirmation letter and as a result could not speak publicly on his appointment. Gecom has since announced a media conference to be held this afternoon to introduce Lowenfield to the nation.
According to the job description, the Chief Election Officer is responsible for preparing strategic plans, work programmes, budgets and authorising relevant expenditure as well as review departmental reports and performance audits; provide direction and advice on improvements and the resolution of problems.
The post-holder is also to be responsible for managing the registration of electors, and the conduct of elections of members of the National Assembly, the Regional Democratic Councils and Local Government Authorities, and all national or local referenda in Guyana as well as supervise and monitor the establishment of the National Register of Registrants, from which a voter’s roll may be extracted, and the issuance of National Identification Cards.