Home Letters Free, fair elections must be crystal clear and unconditional in democratic societies
Please permit me the space to emphasise that the meaning of “free and fair elections” must be crystal clear and unconditional in a democratic society. The Guyana Constitution is grounded in this framework. The indifference to this establishment, therefore, has undermined the acceptable, revered principles on which our nation is built, and with whom we share relationships.
Following successful passage of the December 2018 No-Confidence Motion, the PNC, along with operatives at the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), did everything to avoid going to the polls. It was indeed a Herculean task to get the APNU/AFC Government to dissolve the Parliament and announce the Elections date.
After the Elections on March 02, 2020, the nation had to endure five months of frustration as the PNC and the GECOM riggers tried desperately to avoid the inevitable in an obvious move to stifle the democratic right of our nation, realising a situation of total international rejection.
Without a doubt, the recent troubling attacks on democracy at home and in several places around the world dictate the need for strengthening policies and actions to deter all undesirable threats. We watched in awe at the eruption of some of the most atrocious and abominable challenges to democratic electoral principles which recently took place in the United States of America. The strongest condemnation is warranted from the outlook of things, and it is therefore welcoming to witness the strong words of principle emanating from Our Attorney General, given Guyana’s experience at home.
As a global leader, after which many countries have patterned their political standards and foundation, one must be flabbergasted to observe domestic terrorism of this nature. An attempted “coup” has not occurred in America in over 200 years, and there is some measure of certainty that the swiftest and most condign actions would be taken against those involved, to ensure that it never happens again.
Observably, the American internal verification system stands strong against the insurgent behaviour, unlike the drawn-out, attenuated one of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), which must now face an almost total overhaul. Against the backdrop of decades of underhand business by officials involved at GECOM, this time it took, among other things, the sacrifice of many freedom fighters willing to face injury and death in their watchful protection of the nation’s cast ballots. Those in control at the GECOM Secretariat level openly showed that they had no problem throwing away decency and transparency which ought to have been the central pillar of that constitutional institution. Rather, they openly displayed a status quo that ensured Guyana maintained the terrible, undesirable stigma of ‘Rigged Elections’, which Guyanese people are fully aware is the hallmark of PNC architecture and planning. We can no longer go forward in this setting of pretense and trumped-up false security.
In 2015, the PNC riggers mysteriously introduced the fake spreadsheet instead of following the legally instructive method of using the statements of poll in the verification process. Possibly, an unsuspecting PPPC was caught napping and in search of recounts that were denied by the sudden unavailability of GECOM staff. Worst of all is the fact that the Chief Elections Officer of GECOM, Mr. Keith Lowenfield, then told the Commission meeting that there were ‘fake statements of poll’, and he would not be able to declare the election’s results. Also of note, the Former Chairman of GECOM, Dr. Steve Surujbally, said the ‘fake statements of poll were not used’ in the tabulation of the marginal victory handed to PNC-led APNU/AFC contesting party. It meant that the votes in 32 electoral divisions were not counted, and the election petition filed to address the humongous anomalies still cannot be heard up to today.
The obvious question is: From where did those fake statements of poll originate?
There was no declaration from GECOM regarding the divisions affected by these fake statements of poll, and the CEO did not think it relevant for voters to know if and why their votes were not counted?
The introduction of the spreadsheet instead of the statements of poll caused a big furor, following which Returning Officer Melanie Marshall halted the counting process with the promise that she would continue shortly, after persistent objections.
The continuation of the verification process never saw the light of day, as GECOM suddenly declared there were enough votes in favour of the Opposition to announce a result. With an entire process sabotaged largely with assistance from the clandestine actions of GECOM operatives, the APNU/AFC was catapulted into office. This, of course, could never be considered free or fair, with the possibility of the election petition turning out to be of non-materialistic value. It never saw the light of day.
Guyanese are now asking if there were ever any fake statements of poll, and these matters must be cleared. The officials at GECOM are shrouded in overwhelming uncertainty, which does not auger well for the administration of processes representing the nation. What we have is a conundrum, whereby persons in the GECOM system have been allowed to circumvent their expected responsibilities and then allowed space and latitude to clean up the evidence against their dirty work.
The foregoing is neither acceptable nor fair, and the Commission needs to take the strongest actions in eradicating the filth. Citizens are of the view that the PNC are fully aware of the fact that they can never win a free and fair election in Guyana, and they were hell-bent on derailing all elections. There must be no further accommodation of the tainted measures and myopic lenses from the PNC to visualise these important matters.
We demand the immediate implementation of systems that would realise free, fair and acceptable elections’ results.