GECOM has a sacred responsibility

Dear Editor,
There are now about twenty political parties who want to contest the upcoming elections, but it seems only the PPP is prepared to struggle for a clean list of electors and for free and fair elections. The others are recklessly staying on the sidelines depending on the PPP to carry the struggle for a clean list of electors and for free and fair elections. Where is Mr Ramkarran and A New and United Guyana (ANUG)? Where is Mr Badal and his Change Guyana? Where is Mr Shuman and his party? Where are all the others, the doctors, the pastors, the lawyers who have all formed parties? Why have they abandoned their obligation to speak out against GECOM’s messing around?
GECOM claims there are 20,556 new registrants from the illegal house-to-house (HtH) Registration and they want to merge this list into the OLE. They continue to ignore the salient, critical fact that these names were gathered in an exercise that did not include scrutiny and verification by the largest political party in Guyana, as mandated by law. Already, PPP activists have shown exposed names purported to be new registrants who are really persons previously registered. Two such names that have emerged as examples are the names of Justice Cecil Kennard, a former Chancellor, and Mr Jailall Kissoon, a former Minister of the PNC and a prominent attorney. Then there are names of persons who died many years ago. How did these dead persons get to register in the recent illegal House-to-House Registration? Just these examples demonstrate that the list of new registrants that GECOM has generated is hopelessly flawed and raises the possibility of criminal shenanigans. Why then is GECOM so dead-set to merge these names without 100 per cent verification? Such verification is something that could be done within days. Their haste to merge this list and their absolute objection for comprehensive verification raises serious suspicion that GECOM’s intention is not pure, that GECOM’s intention is towards something evil.
A clean list of voters is indispensable for free and fair elections. Guyana’s continuous registration system is designed to ensure that every citizen above 18 years old has the opportunity to be listed. For the upcoming March 2020 general elections, there appears to be a vulgar messing around with the list of voters, promoted by APNU/AFC, with GECOM being complicit as an agent to mess with the list, all in contravention of the laws of Guyana.
Initially, GECOM wanted to merge 370,000 names from the HtH into the NRR (National Register of Registrants) and then extract a new PLE (Preliminary Voters’ List). But the mandated fingerprint cross-matching determined that about 300,000 of the names, in fact, were already in the NRR. GECOM then proposed merging the remaining 70,000, even though these were never verified by all political stakeholders and even though there were other anomalies. Under pressure from the PPP, GECOM admitted that only 20,556 names were actually new registrants eligible to vote. Even with serious questions surrounding the list of 20,556 persons, GECOM is insisting they will merge this list into the NRR and into the new OLE. They are steadfast in their refusal for verification, even as the list is already impugned, even as GECOM attracts further humiliation and embarrassment.
The refusal for verification is suspicious because this same GECOM wanted to remove about 20,000 names from the list because these persons still are to collect their ID cards. The persons whose names they want to remove were legitimately registered, their registration was scrutinised and verified with at-home proof of residency and they met all legal requirements during their registration exercise and have voted in previous elections. Yet GECOM demands they prove all over again that they actually exist. Contrast this posture with the existing one for the so-called new registrants. These persons were registered with no scrutiny by the largest political party in Guyana or by any of the other political parties outside of the APNU/AFC grouping, in contravention of the laws of Guyana.
From even before the No Confidence Motion, GECOM was messing with the voters’ list, the oldest cheating trick in elections around the world. Guyana has a history of bogus voting lists under Forbes Burnham and Desmond Hoyte and the PNC. Just think of the BBC series showing Burnham registering horses in England as Guyanese voters. From the moment Granger became President in 2015, his game-plan was to follow the Burnham formula to mess with the voters’ list. This was the real intention when he bucked the well-established Carter formula to appoint James Patterson as GECOM’s Chair. That is why before the CCJ forced Patterson to leave GECOM, he ordered a new HtH. The intention was clear, pad the voters’ list and remove as many names of persons suspected to be PPP supporters.
GECOM has a sacred responsibility to generate an environment of confidence in the election. What GECOM is doing with the OLE presently is creating too much suspicion. The refusal to verify the list of so-called new registrants is reckless, particularly given the flaws already exposed. To add to the recklessness is GECOM’s demand that the PPP can verify by itself. The PPP will do so. But will GECOM accept the PPP’s findings? Is this going to be another unnecessary fight?
Justice Claudette Singh must act with fairness and firmness. At the same time, GECOM’s insistence that they will remove 20,000 names of persons who legitimately registered, many of whom voted in previous elections, just because they did not collect their ID cards is puzzling. The bottom line is that there is a compromised group at GECOM which is wickedly fooling around, messing with the list of voters. The question is why? Nothing good could come out of this messing around with the list of voters.

Dr Leslie Ramsammy