…again by PNC
It’s said that “justice delayed is justice denied”. And in that context, the observation of philosopher of Liberal Democracy, John Rawls, that “Justice is the first virtue of social institutions”, is very apt; as David Granger, leader of the PNC and President of Guyana, tag teams with GECOM to delay the elections that were constitutionally mandated on March 21, 2019 by the successful no-confidence vote of Dec 21, 2018.
Elections are the very lifeblood of democracy, since quintessentially they facilitate its prime virtue: for the people, in exercising their franchise, to be able to say, “We, the people, in constituting a government….” And if that power is delayed, then we have to conclude that “a franchise delayed is justice denied”.
Just as it was when, for almost three decades, they turned us into an international pariah by rigging elections so blatantly that any mention of their government was invariably flagged with an asterisk!
In the last elections rigged by Burnham in 1980, the British Parliamentary Group of Observers described it as “more crooked than barbed wire”!! In those riggings, Burnham always started by corrupting the institution in charge of elections, GECOM, by first having a chairman – first Sir Donald Jackman and then Sir Harold Bollers (both ex-Chief Justices, not so incidentally!)- under his thumb, and then by fiddling with the voters’ list.
And so, when the US decided in 1990 to stop underwriting Burnham’s rigging and usher in “free and fair” elections, the first thing their proxy, the Carter Center, did was to come up with a GECOM Commission that would be fair, so as to deliver justice to the Guyanese people’s right to choose their government. The formula of three Commissioners nominated by the Government and three by the Opposition obviously demanded that the Chairman, with the casting vote, be neutral, or the whole mechanism would be biased.
And this is where Art 162 (2) comes in, since it was changed to demand consensus in choosing the Chairman between the President (Government) and the Opposition Leader– that it must come from a list submitted by the latter. So when Granger was allowed to get away with unilaterally choosing the 85-year-old Justice James Patterson, it didn’t take even a whit of cynicism to conclude the PNC were up to their old tricks.
So this insistence by Granger that there can’t be elections until “GECOM” (read Patterson) is ready is just nonsense on stilts!! While Art 61 says the President sets the “time for elections”, Art 106 MANDATES that elections MUST be scheduled 3 months after a successful NCM. GECOM ain’t mentioned.
GECOM just has to do its goddamn job – run elections!!
Back in the early days of Burnham’s rigging, a declassified file from the US archives showed that he’d proposed to the then US ambassador that he was planning to bring in “small islanders” from the Caribbean to neutralise the PPP’s advantage in numbers, after ditching the UF. While he did bring in some, they didn’t like the interior where they’d been sent to be kept under the radar. The plan fizzled and he used “other means”!
Fast forward to the present, where the PNC also want to ditch their junior coalition partner (the AFC “dead meat”) and not surprisingly, they’re cogging from Burnham’s playbook to boost their numbers. So when it was revealed that thousands of Haitians who’d entered can’t be found – and now they’re automatically allowed to stay for six months — rigging antennae are raised!!
Immigration Minister Felix says not to worry…the President’s directive is just executing a Caricom HoG decision. But that decision demanded they show the Haitians have the means to sustain themselves for that time!!
Was Immigration so instructed?
New US Ambassador Sarah-Ann Lynch told the confirming Senate Committee on Foreign Relations she’s planning to “work with the Guyanese Government and people to build upon gains in democratic governance, the rule of law, and citizen security.”
Like constitutionally mandated elections???