“Reckless & appalling” – GCCI condemns Hamilton Green’s support for rigged elections

The Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) on Monday vehemently condemned the remarks made by a veteran political figure, Hamilton Green, who encouraged the use of electoral fraud as a tool towards gaining political power and supporting a racial agenda.
Green, a former General Secretary of the People’s National Congress (PNC), on Friday last suggested that election rigging be used to remove the ruling People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Administration from office.
He was at the time addressing a group of persons gathered for the LFS Burnham Foundation Annual Commemorative Symposium 2024 – an event organised to commemorate the 101st birth anniversary of Linden Forbes Burnham – former PNC leader and President of Guyana, whose legacy is largely attributed to his dictatorship-style leadership and blatant rigging of several elections. This started after Burnham won the 1964 elections. At the time, Green was the General Secretary of the PNC.

President of GCCI,
Kester Hutson

Slamming Green, for the statement, GCCI on Monday said that such statements are not only reckless but also deeply concerning in light of Guyana’s painful history of rigged elections that have resulted in racial violence and the destabilisation of our nation.
“Any attempts to undermine the integrity of the electoral process poses a serious threat to our democracy and the well-being of our society as a whole. Democracy and respect for the rule of law are fundamental pillars of our society, and any subversion of these principles must be unequivocally condemned,” GCCI said in its statement.
It is disheartening and appalling, the private sector organization said, to see the resurrection of this “archaic thinking which has been responsible for discord, disharmony, and disunity in the past in Guyana.” A stable and fair electoral process, and democratic environment are essential conditions for businesses to thrive and engage in commerce without fear of instability or unfair practices, the GCCI noted.
“The GCCI firmly believes that a stable democratic environment is essential for fostering economic growth and delivering a high standard of living for all of the nation’s people,” GCCI said, adding “We urge all individuals, especially those in positions of influence, to refrain from making statements that threaten the integrity of our electoral system and the stability of our nation.”

Hamilton Green

Rigging of elections
Green told the gathering at Friday’s symposium that earlier in the day, he had engaged another group during which he mentioned the rigging of elections to get the PPP out of government.
“…It was Burnham’s wisdom which got him into office in 1964. I was General Secretary at the critical time. And if, as I told one of the groups I met [Friday] morning, if they say he rigged elections, I say we should keep rigging to save us from these devils, these bastards, these demons that we have,” Green declared during the event that was livestreamed on Facebook.
In attendance at the event was the PNC-led A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) Commissioner at the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), Vincent Alexander. The guest speaker was Attorney-at-Law Nigel Hughes.
During his remarks, Green proposed the use of the LFS Burnham Foundation building to not only “eulogise Burnham” but also educate young people on what needed to be done.
“As you speak to some young people, they have been so brain-washed and confused at the highest level… Use every opportunity – if is six or seven young people in their teens – to sit them down and tell where we came from, where we are and what we need to do for tomorrow,” he stated.
Further suggesting that the PPP/C Administration could be pressured into calling snap elections, Green posited, “I’ve been in this business long and we have to begin preparations to deal with that prospect today.
“When things were going quiet Burnham called a young gentleman who was at the centre of Congress Place… and said ‘Why is the city so quiet?’ And that gentleman acted and brought Jagan to his senses when he had said to the workers ‘not a cent more’. But that didn’t happen by accident, because at the centre of the political directorate, there are people who are in touch with the grassroots and all of us who spoke here today must leave here committed to put in the ambit of your control and influence six people, or seven, eight, nine, 10… and I leave that message, that plea with the Burnham Foundation so that we can save this country.”
Recalling that he was nursed into politics by his mother, the PNC politician contended that the same needed to be done with young people today. In fact, Green even offered his services to engage these young people.
“The history of this country suggests that the only people who deserve to be ‘pan tap’ (on top) are those whose ancestors suffered for centuries without a cent. We welcomed the indentured people, gave them an education and Burnham sought to unite the people, but based on the demographics, the new Indians were a larger group. They didn’t want that.”
“If the Captain on this Captain’s Deck is Bharrat [Jagdeo, General Secretary of the PPP/C and Vice President] and [President Dr Irfaan] Ali, who is being portrayed as a saint, they have to learn the language that they will understand, because if we don’t, we’ll betray the legacy of Burnham, Cuffy, Quamina and the Enmore Martyrs,” Green noted.

Blatant rigging
Under the Burnham regime, there was blatant rigging of the national elections in 1968, 1973, 1978/1980 and 1985 in the PNC’s favour. It was not until 1992 that the PNC was removed from office when the PPP won the elections and stayed in office until 2015.
However, when the PNC-led APNU/AFC coalition, under the David Granger presidency, fell to a No-Confidence Motion (NCM) in December 2018, it went against the Guyana Constitution and did not go to elections until more than a year later on March 2, 2020.
In another attempt to cling to power, the APNU/AFC, after an almost smooth polling day, colluded with senior GECOM officials to rig the elections results – a move which plunged Guyana into five months of political deadlock.
Several international observer missions, including the United States-based Carter Center, and other global bodies, world leaders and even regional powers had called out the PNC-led regime for its blatant attempts to derail the election results.
This support from the international community coupled with strong and persistent pushback from local stakeholders ensured that democracy prevailed through a national recount that was supervised by the Caribbean Community (Caricom).
That 33-day exercise found that Clairmont Mingo, former embattled Returning Officer of Region Four (Demerara-Mahaica) – Guyana’s largest voting district – had heavily inflated the figures in favour of the then incumbent coalition.
Mingo, along with former Chief Elections Officer Keith Lowenfield and other GECOM staffers as well as PNC party activists, is currently before the courts facing several electoral fraud charges.