Responding to questions at an on-line press conference on Thursday, Forde, in answer to a query about the legality of the charges brought against the GECOM staff, said “We will be paying close attention to these charges that are being laid, and we are very vigilant and paying attention to when these charges are likely to begin in terms of a hearing.
He pointed out that “once the evidence starts to come out, that they are seeking to go into matters directly connected to the election petition, and that they’re seeking to raise issues which form part of the court’s resolution, over the issue in relation to the election petition, those charges will have to be permanently ‘stayed’ until the court hears and determines an elections petition.”
Forde noted that “when we read many of the charges from what I see, they’re very vague, you can’t really tell what they relate to, what are the issues that they relate to. So while it is a correct principle in law to say that all these issues must be determined by way of an election petition, and an election court is the only competent authority to hear them we must contemplate the possibility that there may be an opening for the presentation of a charge, ” the APNU/AFC legal consul said.
He however cautioned that “those charges must form issues outside of the context of an election petition. And from what I have heard from my colleagues who are representing the persons charged, I have every reason to believe that the substance of the charges, when the cases unfold, you’ll see that they directly relate to the elections petition, and they’ll go nowhere,” Mr. Forde said.
Co-Counsel Amanza Walton Desir MP observed that “the desperation that we see characterizing the PPP’s action, is a good indicator that they are uncomfortable with the elections petition, and that they know fully well that the prospects for success are significant and so I expect that in the coming days we will continue to see further attempts to humiliate and dehumanize members of staff of GECOM.”
In the meantime, GECOM Commissioner Vincent Alexander (left) is maintaining that the private criminal charges brought against Chief Elections Officer (CEO), Keith Lowenfield; his Deputy, Roxane Myers; and other elections staff of the Guyana Elections Commission are not only premature but unconstitutional.
In an interview on KAMS TV and which was broadcast on Facebook, Alexander said the criminal charges brought against the Election Officials forms part of a clear attempt by the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Government and its allies, to discredit them ahead of the election petition cases.
“There was no evidence when they came before the Court, and one would have expected that in the circumstance where there was no evidence that the charges would have simply been thrown out; because you can’t come to the court to bring charges, and you don’t have the basis on which you are in fact filing those charges, and that’s what occurred,” the Election Commissioner reasoned. So what the Director of Public Prosecution is now doing, is the work that the persons who brought the charges should have done prior to bringing the charges,” Alexander said.
He lamented that when the cases come up for mention in the courts, they are repeatedly deferred due to the fact that the investigations against those charged are incomplete. “And that for me is worrying, [because] the justice system has entertained a situation where private individuals have initiated a process which they themselves have been unable to produce and the DPP’s office for over a month now, itself has not produced any evidence,” Alexander submitted.
Among those charged by the police are GECOM employees: Keith Lowenfield, Clairmont Mingo, the Deputy Chief Election Officer (DCEO), Roxanne Myers, Duarte Hetsberger, Michelle Miller, Enrique Livan, Shefern February, Carolyn Duncan and Denise Cummings.
“I think that the very charges themselves [are] intended to smear these officers, and to have these officers removed so that other persons can now occupy those offices,” Alexander observed, adding that the actions against these elections staff is simply malicious, and is intended to discredit the officials and staff of the Elections Commission Secretariat ahead of the pending Election Petitions.
The two election petition cases filed by supporters of the APNU+AFC challenging the outcome of the March 2 General and Regional elections is expected to comes up for case management before the Chief Justice Roxane George-Wiltshire on Thursday October 22.
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