January 10th was the anniversary of Nomination Day 2020. I was a part of Nomination Day 2020, as I have been for nomination days since 1992. Nomination Day 2020, last January, not only reflected a vigorous and determined response from the PPP and all the new political parties, signalling to APNU/AFC that the people of Guyana were eager to end the disastrous David Granger/APNU /AFC tenure in Government. Nomination Day 2020, unfortunately, also provided more evidence that the Granger-led APNU/AFC had no intention to play by the rules. Significantly, Nomination Day 2020 exposed the unholy alliance between APNU/AFC and the GECOM Secretariat. The new political parties and the PPP decided to camp out in front of the Umana Yana days before nomination day, to reserve their places for presentation of their candidate lists. At least two parties, TNM and the URP, were in line as #1 and #2 as early as Wednesday evening. The PPP and Change Guyana joined in on Thursday evening. But on Friday, Nomination Day itself, APNU/AFC showed up and proceeded to the head of the line, permitted by GECOM.
While some argue we make too much of “jumping the line”, in this case, the line-jumping provided another early signal of the rigging alliance, the collusion, between APNU/AFC and the GECOM staff.
Last week, in this column, I highlighted the absolute hypocrisy, dishonesty, and frankly delusional attempt by David Granger to sugar-coat APNU/AFC’s egregious failed strategy to thief the 2020 elections. Mr. Granger, during a New Year’s message, dishonestly rewrote the entire history of events between June 2018 and August 2, 2020, equating election rigging to constitutional and democratic strengthening. That period saw overt actions by APNU/AFC to violate the constitution, take control of GECOM, and thief the 2020 elections, even going as far as openly changing the numbers of votes each party secured during the March 2, 2020 elections.
Their actions, which I listed last week, were not done in secret; their actions were visible for the whole world to see. It was a plain, old-fashion theft and rigging of an election. It happened in front of former Prime Ministers from CARICOM and Africa. It happened during live-streaming to the world. The attempted theft has been captured in videos and by the media, and is preserved for posterity. In fact, several GECOM staff and senior members of APNU/AFC have been charged by the Police for fraud, and are before the courts today. Every single local and international observer group has reported on the thievery attempt. Yet Mr. Granger, in his most delusional self, concluded that what we saw and what the world witnessed since the appointment of James Patterson in June 2018 as GECOM’s Chair was no ill-conceived rigging scheme, but a strategy to strengthen our democracy.
How could printing of an unusually large number of birth certificates without accountability by the Citizens Ministry be strengthening democracy, especially when persons who legitimately required and applied for birth certificates could not obtain any? During that period thousands of Haitians, for example, arrived in Guyana. To this day, the whereabouts of more than 30,000 Haitians are unknown. Our sisters and brothers from Haiti deserve to live in a country, including in Guyana, where they can earn a decent living. But our suspicion was that the Citizenship Ministry intended to use innocent people as phantom voters. Worse, we suspect the Haitians were victims of human trafficking.
How could breaching the Constitution and arbitrarily appointing the GECOM Chair strengthen democracy? On the contrary, the violation of the Constitution, as the ICJ affirmed, weakened democracy. Clearly, James Patterson was appointed to do the bidding of APNU/AFC. The first thing Patterson did as Chairman of GECOM was refusing to renew the contract of Vishnu Persaud, who was the Deputy Chief Elections Officer. He never met Persaud; he could not have read anything negative about Persaud’s work, since the only appraisals available at GECOM were laudatory of Persaud. Persaud was replaced by Roxanne Myers, a lady with no experience in election matters. The Ethnic Relations Commission, refusing to call a spade a spade, declared the appointment of Myers non-transparent. Clearly Myers’s appointment represented a conspiracy to create a rigging machinery within GECOM. Persaud was sent packing because he was going to be a roadblock to the rigging conspiracy. Today Myers is in front of the courts, together with other colleagues in GECOM, charged by the police with electoral fraud. Only Granger’s warped mind could argue Persaud’s removal strengthened democracy.
When the Constitution was breached again after the December 21st, 2018 No-Confidence Motion, with APNU/AFC refusing to dissolve Parliament and schedule election, how could such action be necessary for a stronger democracy? It is either a warped, wicked, or delusional mind that would sell such baloney. Only a hypocritical or delusional mind that is up to nothing good could conceive that 33 is not more than 32, and go all the way to the CCJ to determine the answer. But Granger brazenly want Guyanese to forget what they experience and accept that APNU/AFC was just trying to make our democracy stronger. The truth is that a steel cord binds Granger, like Burnham before him, to rigged elections. Like Burnham before him, Granger’s legacy is rigged elections.