Ever since the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) Government, led by David Granger, lost a No-Confidence Motion (NCM) brought by the Opposition People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) on December 21, 2018, they launched a war of attrition to cling to power by hook or crook. It has been more “crook” than “hook”, since, even when the latter involved the Courts, their arguments bordered on the risible. To claim that 33 was not the majority of 65, when they had formed the Government because of that same majority in 2015 left no doubt that Granger was continuing Burnham’s cynical legacy on the rule of law.
Their success in dragging out the NCM’s constitutionally-mandated elections from March 2019 to March 2020, emboldened the now Caretaker President Granger to believe he could continue his rear-guard action after they lost the elections of March 2, 2020. This loss was known to them as early as the night of March 2, when the 2339 Statements of Poll (SoPs) from across the country would have been transmitted to Congress Place, as they were to the PPP at Freedom House.
The latter released their SoPs on the morning of March 3, which showed them winning the elections by a margin of some 15,000 votes. The APNU/AFC coalition to this day have never released their copies of their SoPs, claiming they would do so when it was “appropriate”. Between March 3 and March 4, we and the rest of the world witnessed the “crook” of Mingo’s fiddling with the Region 4 SoPs to deliver a “victory” for APNU/AFC. The war of attrition went into overdrive.
Today, we are now five-and-a-half months after the Guyanese nation cast their ballots and we are nowhere closer to having the winner declared after more “hooks and crooks”. There was another sordid fraud with Mingo, this time involving a soiled bedsheet; an aborted recount organised by Caricom that was brought back on course; COVID-19 instructions from Harmon that stretched the recount to 33 days; the announcement of arbitrary “irregularities” by APNU/AFC agents with absolutely no evidence; the announcement of the valid votes from the recount; the recourse to the High Court, the Court of Appeal, then (finally everyone hoped) to the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ).
This was the end of the line, most reasonable, law-abiding citizens thought: what else was there but to follow the clear instructions of the highest court in the land that the valid votes as ascertained by the recount and summarised in the Certificates of Recount be used to declare the winner of the March 2 elections? But with their “hooks” exhausted, the People’s National Congress (PNC) once again fell back to what they practised for 20 years between 1964 and 1992: crookery.
Even though the GECOM Chairwoman, Claudette Singh gave pellucid instructions to CEO Keith Lowenfield that he should compile his report on the elections results as required by law, but in accordance with the CCJ’s ruling from the Certificates of Recount, he wrote that he needed “clarity”. The Chair reiterated that he follow her instructions and present his report the following day. It was noteworthy that the Government Commissioners did not appear when Lowenfield refused to follow instructions and presented a Report that increased the total votes cast in the elections to “show” the APNU/AFC list winning the elections. The war of attrition continued.
Following Article 226, the Chair scheduled a meeting for today – that is two days from when the Report was presented – and if the Government Commissioners do not show up, she and the three Opposition Commissioners will constitute the necessary quorum. At that point, the Commission can then rectify the erroneous Report, as occurred once before in 2011 when Government Commissioner Vincent Alexander identified a defect in the CEO’s Report, and make a declaration.
In any other polity, one could hope that at long last the nightmarish war of attrition would have ended and Irfaan Ali would be sworn in. But unfortunately, this is the PNC we are dealing with and their war of attrition will continue.