Chairwoman and GECOM must adopt a swifter approach

Dear Editor,
The international standards for elections’ oversight bodies in democratic states bear a distinct variance from the disastrous performance of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) in March 2020. There is much evidence that the barely-survived institution mirrored COVID-like symptoms under the weight of PNC-led infiltration and bullyism. The groundings were obvious at the Commission level, where meetings were often volatile, less than transparent, and accountable; feeding unacceptable behaviours at the Secretariat level.
In the aftermath of the disappointing, vulgar, public behaviour displayed by the Chief Elections Officer and staff over which he has responsibility and influence, the consequences informed widespread criticisms and convincing arguments for the overhaul of the organisation at various levels. The result was a growing vitriolic environment, in which the current formula at the Commission level – and particularly the lead role of the Chairwoman – struggled.
Balanced, prudent and decisive actions are now necessitated to ensure the outgrown approaches stifling the organisation’s effectiveness are permanently removed.
The pace of action towards the foregoing has been a source of nationwide concern. Perhaps it is understandable and permissive that a total overhaul cannot be undertaken at once. It must, however, be systemic and priority-driven, particularly because of GECOM’s legal obligation to schedule Local Government Elections.
Notwithstanding, decisive and purposeful actions to address GECOM’s image and to rebuild nationwide confidence in the organisation MUST be the immediate focus of the Commission.
It is recognisably a task more difficult than mere arguments or propositions, given the presence of antagonistic strategies related to unreal legal interpretations, and abuse of our courts (if allowed) is among the foreseeable immediate hurdles.
Therefore, I commend the GECOM Chairperson for her stance of not holding secret meetings with political parties under the circumstances, and Commissioners are expected to understand this principle. In this respect, our Constitution supports a non-partisan role for Commissioners, although in reality representations have varied from this ideal.
One must therefore view the Chairwoman’s response to the nature of the recent request by Peoples National Congress Reform General Secretary Amna Ally as being in the interest of improving transparency.
Justice Claudette Singh is indeed correct in letting the PNC Commissioners know that her preference is to have meetings with the political parties and the full Commission.
The reactions of the three APNU/AFC GECOM Commissioners have brought no surprises. Those reactions reinforce their typically irrational behaviour to anything that advocates fairness, and are consistent with the innate character displayed by the PNC for decades. Their decision to walk out of a meeting of the Commission because the Chairperson refused to hold secret meetings is not only wicked, but vindictive.
These are the same three Commissioners who were fully behind the postponing of Elections during 2019, and who had, for five months, done everything in their reach to frustrate the announcement of the results of the National and Regional Elections that were held on March 02, 2020.
These three musketeers were quiet for some time, perhaps ashamed to face the public after the futile outcome of their regional efforts to CARICOM Heads, and distasteful interventions to delay the true results of the elections. Their roles and influence within and over the process effectively realised the unpredicted havoc that not only threatened the acceptability of GECOM itself, but the nation at large. Suddenly, out of the darkness, they have appeared to recommence their objective of disruption. They walked out of a meeting of the Commission, sarcastically claiming that the ‘Good Lady Chairwoman’ was discourteous because of action she took to improve transparency.
These pretentious lunatics have now staked a claim for major stakeholdership of GECOM; albeit, a malignant, cancerous one. The obvious question is: Who makes them the major stakeholders? Perhaps because they wielded overwhelming influence over the Chief Elections Officer, and were successful in passing on their poisonous spew over the organisation’s operations. By their admission, the public is seeing and hearing why they held this Nation at ‘ransom’ for five months.
Can one imagine why this prejudicial secret meeting with the eminent Justice Claudette Singh is being requested by part of the Commission? Of note, her reactions to the singular engagement approach of PNC General Secretary Amna Ally, to proffer PNC proposals to the matters at hand, must be eking out another path.
Valuable information I have received suggests that the PNC want to backdoor influence the postponement of the scheduled Local Government Elections, thereby giving the APNU/AFC/PNC an opportunity to blame the PPP/C. The divided PNC, at one of their split caucuses, accepted that they cannot win at the Local Government Elections to be held this year, hence they have moved to resuscitate surreptitious manoeuvres to use as an attempt to influence the GECOM Chairperson to see off or effect delays. The PNC are leading their cabal followers to come back with a claim to have ‘house-to-house registration and proposing several opinions they believe would enable them to benefit from the postponement of elections.
I therefore propose that the Chairwoman and GECOM must adopt a swifter approach to cleanse itself of all threats to free and fair elections, and ready itself to deliver the scheduled Local Government Elections. The PPP/C Government MUST provide the supporting framework to help GECOM ensure timely delivery. A firm grip over transparent and accountable meetings of the Commission is a precursor; and to this end, Chairwoman Justice (retired) Madam Claudette Singh is expected to be assertive.

Neil Kumar