Police to question PNC’s Volda Lawrence on Monday over electoral fraud
Chairperson of the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) – the leading party of the APNU fraction of the coalition – Volda Lawrence, is expected to be interrogated by the Guyana Police Force on Monday in relation to allegations of electoral fraud following the March 2, 2020 General and Regional Elections.
Lawrence was initially asked by the Police Force to present herself at the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) Headquarters on Saturday for the allegations to be put to her. However, the meeting has been postponed to Monday, a police source confirmed
PNCR Chair, Volda Lawrence
However, the Force has expressed concerns over the distortions, misrepresentation and sensationalisation being peddled by the APNU/AFC coalition regarding its request for the PNCR Chair to present herself at CID.
Earlier on Saturday, the coalition issued a statement in which it said: “This sudden and unnecessary demand for Ms Lawrence to present herself at the CID Headquarters, late on a Saturday afternoon [at 16:15h]…” is harassment against the APNU/AFC leadership, activists and supporters.
But in response, the police explained that it had not demanded but merely invited Lawrence, through her lawyer Nigel Hughes, to the CID Headquarters. It was noted that Attorney Hughes had initially indicated that he would have taken his client in at 10:00h on Saturday but later contacted investigators and requested their discretion for him to instead take Lawrence in at 16:00h.
“The police investigators had no difficulty in acceding to the attorney’s request and so the time for Ms Lawrence to report to the CID location in the company of her attorney was duly re-scheduled as requested,” the missive from the GPF detailed.
As such, it went on to say “The GPF notes with grave concern the distorted and blatantly false statements in the said press release issued by APNU/AFC, which falsely claims that the police demanded that Ms, Lawrence come to the CID late on the said Saturday, October 10 afternoon. This claim is completely erroneously and can only be viewed as a convenient attempt to create public mischief and impede the ongoing Police investigations into the March 2, 2020, post-elections incidents.”
The Police Force is currently probing allegations of attempts to rig the March 2 elections after receiving “formal reports” back in August. Already, the police have arrested and charged several staff at the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) for the role they played in the events after the March 2 polls.
However, even as the police investigations are ongoing, Lawrence is already facing private criminal charges jointly with embattled Region Four Returning Officer, Clairmont Mingo, for forging electoral documents in an effort to defraud the country.
Back in March, Charles Ramson Jr, who had served as PPP/C’s Counting Agent, had filed private criminal charges against Mingo and Lawrence following the RO’s declaration of unverified results for Region Four (Demerara-Mahaica).
Lawrence was arraigned in August on this charge and placed a $100,000 bail. The matter is still pending in court.
The particulars of the charge state that Mingo, having been procured by Lawrence on or about March 5 at the Command Centre for the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) on High and Hadfield Streets, uttered to the Chief Elections Officer (CEO), Keith Lowenfield, the election results for Region Four, knowing it to be forged, with intent to defraud the people of Guyana.
GECOM, despite being barred by an injunction, went ahead and published the Form 24s [which is the election declaration] for all regions on its website. This included the unverified declaration for Region Four – Guyana’s largest voting district.
Mingo’s declaration, which was subsequently set aside by Chief Justice (ag) Roxane George, was signed by him and Lawrence – the lone representative from the political parties that contested the elections. The other parties had objected to the declaration after the verification process was not fully complied with by the Returning Officer.
It was subsequently unearthed during the National Recount exercise that Mingo had heavily inflated the figures to give the then APNU/AFC incumbent a lead at the polls.
However, the recount exercise showed that the PPP/C won the elections with 233,336 votes, while the coalition secured 217,920 votes – a difference of some 15,416 votes.
As such, Mingo was charged by the police and arraigned last month on four counts of misconduct in public office. He is currently on $600,000 bail.
In addition, he is also facing the private criminal charge jointly with Lawrence, for which he is currently out on self-bail. (G8)