New Charges Laid Against Embattled Guyana Chief Elections Officer

Guyana’s Chief Elections Officer, Keith Lowenfield, was on Monday granted GUY$300,000 bail after he appeared in court on new charges arising from the disputed March 2 regional and general elections.

Lowenfield has been charged with three counts of misconduct in public office and three charges in relation to forgery. He was granted GUY$50,000 bail on each of the charges. He will return to court on October 23.

His attorney, Nigel Hughes, told reporters his client had earlier surrendered to the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) Headquarters and later taken to the Georgetown Magistrates’ Court where he was formally arraigned.

Hughes said it appears as though the charges being filed against the Chief Election Officer and the Deputy Chief Election Officer are to be used as a way of removing them from the Guyana Elections Commission.

“The intention is perhaps to have Mr. Lowenfield and the Deputy removed from their substantive positions and so by the filing of charges, there might be a basis by which, I assume, the Elections Commission will consider, I am assuming, an application for them to be suspended from office or not act. But as I have said that appears to be the basis for the trend going forward,” Hughes said.

Last month, a case of fraud against Lowenfield was adjourned to October 26 even as one of his attorneys, Neil Boston, insisted that his client had no case to answer and would be seeking a dismissal when the matter is called

Lowenfield is facing charges of misconduct in public office, conspiracy to commit a felony, and fraud arising from the country’s local and general elections that the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) said was won by the main Opposition People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) after a national recount had been undertaken and supervised by a three-member Caribbean Community observer team.

Lowenfield was granted bail in the sum of GUY$150,000 on each of the three charges that were filed privately on June 30 by Desmond Morian of the PPP/C and Josh Kanhai of the smaller Opposition, The New Movement party.

Lowenfield is alleged to have interfered with the outcome of the elections even after a court ruling that he formally submit the results obtained from an official national recount.

The impasse was settled in August with the swearing-in of former Housing Minister Dr Irfaan Ali of the PPP/C as president.

Last month, a fraud charge was also been laid against Clairmont Mingo, the returning officer for Guyana’s largest voting district,

He is accused of conspiracy to commit fraud and was not required to plead to the indictable offence. He joins former government minister and the chairperson of the Opposition People’s National Congress Reform Volda Lawrence on the charge.

On August 24, Lawrence was placed on GUY$100,000 bail in relation to a private criminal charge filed against her by PPP/C member and current Minister of Culture Youth and Sport Charles Ramson Jr.

Mingo, who is already on GUY$600,000 bail for four other charges related to electoral fraud, was released on self-bail.

His matter has now been adjourned to November 16 to allow the prosecution time to complete the filing of statements.

The police are also expected to lay fresh charges against Lawrence, after the police over the last weekend said they wanted to further question here.

The coalition, A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) and the Alliance for Change (AFC) has accused the PPP/C government for using the police force to unleash psychological warfare against the opposition.

“Today there has been an unmistakable further intensification of the psychological terrorism on the leadership of the APNU+AFC Coalition by the PPP regime and their complicit agents in the Guyana Police Force,” the coalition said in a statement over the last weekend.

The coalition has said that the series of charges against GECOM officials and coalition supporters is aimed at derailing the two election petitions it has filed challenging the outcome of the disputed regional and general election.

“This latest devious and abominable action by the PPP regime further crystallises that they are horrified and frightened by the APNU+AFC Coalition’s elections petitions which they know they will lose and will result in their removal from government which they temporarily occupy. They are attempting every desperate tactic to thwart the hearing of the election petition,” the coalition said.



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