“Empirical” info may lead to fake SOPs culprit – Dr Surujbally
Even on his last day at the helm of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), outgoing Chairman, Dr Steve Surujbally remained tight-lipped about the source of the fake Statement of Polls (SOPs) which were discovered during the 2015 General and Regional Elections.
Speaking with reporters at his last press briefing as Chairman of the elections body on Tuesday, Dr Surujbally maintained that the fake SOPs discovered could never have passed through the rigorous scrutiny of the GECOM staffers and Commissioners.
However, when asked where the suspicions lead, the former Chairman opted not to say but noted that certain matters that rose may lead in certain directions.
“The answer to your question is I do not know who (inserted the SOPs)… empirical data, not provable data, empirical data could point in a direction… The direction would be that the culprit with further research may be identified,” he asserted.
The former GECOM Chairman opted not to divulge any more details, blasting media operatives for not pursuing the issue more aggressively when it had occurred.
Further pressed about who stood to benefit more from what he called an “evil and wicked” act, Dr Surujbally posited that the question was a difficult one to answer.
“It is too complex and complicated for me to give you a definitive answer on that… because one can argue that even the winner party, not too sure that they’re going to win; you remember it’s a very close election, that they were the ones; or the losing party; or some wicked person or group wanted to claim some fame by doing something like that,” he asserted.
Shortly after the May 11, 2015 election, Chief Election Officer Keith Lowenfield had disclosed that 33 false SOPs were found. The People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) which was ousted from Government following that election, had heavily lobbied for an investigation into the false documents and had even made the issue one of the grounds in the Opposition-sponsored Elections Petition, in which the Party is challenging the results of the 2015 elections.
In fact, Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo had even called for foreign investigators to be called in to probe the matter.
Further citing various inconsistencies with the 2015 electoral process including fake SOPs, the PPP/C has since made several calls for Dr Surujbally to be removed and had even staged numerous picketing exercises outside GECOM’s Head Office.
However, the former GECOM Chairman outlined at Tuesday’s press conference that he was able to withstand the pressure from those “picketers” and “protesters”.
“As a citizen of our beloved country, it is heartrending to witness the depth to which political parties can sink – as they seek to erode the credibility of a tested and proven elections management body. In Guyana, elections must be considered the most important tile in the mosaic of democracy. Such confounded misbehaviour against GECOM must cease. Win or lose, the behaviour of the combatants must be gracious. Words and expressions used must not reflect the banalities associated with the gutter,” he remarked.
Dr Surujbally went on to point out that while a Chairman ought to be not only pachyderm but resolute and fearless, the subjection of persons in that position to continuous abuse must not be considered par for the course since such actions do not adhere to the tenets associated with democracy.
“The truth be told, no Chairman should be subjected unabatedly and relentlessly, with ever increasing venom, to the type of harassment and provocation which are solely based on disgruntlement over the outcome of the polls without reason,” he declared, while adding that such attacks against him begun since the commencement of his term in office back in 2001.