The overriding interest in the matter of the elections petition is to have the law take its course

Dear Editor,

Guyana Elections Commissioner Vincent Alexander, in a letter to the press published on December 7, has labelled the positions adopted by commissioners Benn, Shadick, and Gunraj as “…. concocted, conflictual, and hypocritical” on the application made for Gecom CEO Keith Lowenfield to strike out the petition of Ganga Persaud intended to have the courts hear, examine, and determine the conduct and results of the 2015 National and Regional Elections.

Mr Alexander, in closing his fulminations against the positions of his fellow commissioners, closes with the great advice: “Concoction, conflict and hypocrisy cannot be condoned in the search for justice and the building of democracy”.

The simple facts of this matter would seem to indicate that there is much to be concerned with at Gecom, not least of which is Mr Alexander’s rush to spring to the defence of Messrs Surujbally and Lowenfield and (again) to act as Gecom’s mouthpiece.

When the question was raised at Gecom’s statutory meeting as to whether CEO Lowenfield was authorized to have an application made to quash the elections petition the answer given was an emphatic “No!”

Mr Lowenfield was advised, we were told, to “defend” against the petition – he being named as the respondent of record. No request was made, nor advice sought, of the Guyana Elections Commission on the undertaking of an application to strike out the petition. The recent desperate attempts at Gecom, now backed up by Commissioner Alexander’s letter, to attach the widest possible ‘legal’ interpretation to the word ‘defend.’

The intervention on Mr Lowenfield’s behalf at the courts remains unauthorized and he could, arguably, be held responsible for the costs incurred thereto.

Of greater importance, however, is the question of “justice” which Mr Alexander, seemingly, holds in such high regard. Would it not be fairer to say that the application to strike out the elections petition is an attempt to deny the electorate (of all political persuasions), and the nation as a whole, the opportunity to have a full hearing, examination, and determination by the courts of the process, conduct of, and results declaration of the May, 2015, elections?

Further, does not the application suggest that Gecom is attempting an avoidance of full court and public scrutiny with respect to its performance against its constitutional mandate?

Gecom’s reputation has been put into grave question by one of its major stakeholders and there is general disquiet over the fact of the penetration of Gecom by fake statements of poll, and by the nature and import of the allegations contained in the Ganga Persaud petition. Gecom would be vindicated if it allowed itself to be scrutinized, fully, by the courts and is successful in its defence.

If not, Gecom and the electorate, and Guyana would benefit from a process which could only identify the appropriate tasks and interventions to have delivered free, fair, transparent, and tranquil elections to Guyana.

This is what should underpin, in my view, any talk of genuine democracy in Guyana. Any other course would tend to identify the “conspiratorial” attributes Mr Alexander writes of.

On the issue of “conflict” raised by Mr Alexander, it is self evident that the appointments of Benn and Ms Shadick as Gecom commissioners post-dated their presence on a list of candidates. More importantly, an individual named Ganga Persaud has petitioned the courts and not the head of the list he infers!

Surely this “conflict” could not be deemed as rising to a level which prevents the commissioners from proposing remedies to a situation where unauthorized, costly, and delaying tactics are the resorts to a matter which is of critical national importance? It appears that Mr Alexander’s view is one where the abandonment by Benn and Ms Shadick of their constitutional and fiduciary duties, to satisfy the far-fetched “conflict” he construes, is a better position than having the Commission work to achieve a better run organization!

Mr Alexander refers, last, to an issue arising out of the declaration of the results of the 2006 elections. He attempts to juxtapose “accusations” of Gecom immorality of not exposing itself to the scrutiny of the courts. The issue, however, could not hinge on whether deception was a ruse then, or even now, as an excuse to dismiss, out of hand, the matters raised. What should be is the over-riding interest to have the law take its course in a manner that allows for a fully ventilated examination and determination of the issues raised in the petition.

A delay of justice is often, familiarly described as justice denied. In this matter, Dr Surujbally’s action of casting his deciding vote against the motion to have CEO Lowenfield withdraw the application in his name to quash the elections petition is most regrettable. It suggests the complete disregard for the most elementary tenets of justice in a matter of grave national importance, and that no satisfaction is to be expected from the Surujbally-Lowenfield combine at Gecom – backed up by Alexander!

This situation reflects the real hypocrisy at Gecom which is mandated to ‒ yes ‒ guarantee and protect the votes of the electorate!

Yours faithfully,

Robeson Benn

Gecom Commissioner         

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