Shaking up…

Surely, there can’t be a Guyanese alive who believes that GECOM – as the institution intended to deliver credible elections – can go forward without massive root-and-branch changes in its composition, structure, and modus operandi. We witnessed too much hanky-panky and tinkering in its operations by the PNC during the last five years to think otherwise. The challenge for President Ali’s Government is to take the (GECOM) bull by the horns to checkmate the PNC’s bullyism.
After all, in addition to observing the last (troubled) elections, the 3-member High Level Caricom Team conducted an analysis of GECOM. Inter alia, they recommended that “a political audit of GECOM, (its successes and failings, and the factors contributing to those), both the Commission and its administrative arm, is urgently warranted. It therefore behooves whichever political party emerges victorious from these elections to initiate an immediate political audit; as, in a very real sense, GECOM betrayed its obligations to behave impartially and independently in the best interest of integrity-based processes which (do) not favour any party or parties, whether in terms of operational or policy decisions”.
Your Eyewitness knows there needs to be held Local Government Elections (LGE) next year. This shouldn’t be delayed, since the PPP would never hear the end of the PNC’s strident screams about “the rape of democracy”. That’s what they did after 1994, when LGEs were postponed, and they never mentioned that they’d agreed with those postponements year after year in the National Assembly.
Their representative, Vincent Alexander, couldn’t find agreement with the PPP’s Clinton Collymore on the LGE legislation! The present GECOM can proceed with the LGE, since its contradictions shouldn’t lead to the tensions of the General Elections of March 2. The stakes aren’t seen as big enough for the PNC to make as much trouble.
Structured discussions on the reforms can be initiated with the PPP putting forward a White Paper in the National Assembly. This White Paper should ensue from the CariCom-recommended “audit” that should be initiated immediately by the Government. The parameters of that White Paper have been well ventilated in the press over the last five years, and can be divided into three areas of concern: the GECOM Secretariat, the GECOM Commission, and their respective operations.
We saw the racially-biased hiring practices of the Secretariat queried by the ERC, but that query was derailed by the refusal of the then GECOM Chair and HR officials to provide data. With the ethnic orientation of Guyana’s politics reflected in the Secretariat’s functioning, its neutral staffing is key to rebuilding trust in the institution.
Then, of course, there’s the composition of the Commission. Can this be depoliticised?
And can the CEO know he’s a creature of the Commission?

…old shibboleths on Suriname
No, your Eyewitness isn’t talking about the “Bacoos” that are supposedly found in Suriname – but which the Trinis insist are OURS! He’s talking about the colonial-fostered idea that we have incommensurable notions on culture and nationalism, and must forever remain separate. If the truth be told, we were ruled by the Dutch till 1814, and as such – if we hold on to the nationalist nostrum – our National Hero Cuffy was Dutch!!
Not to mention that the British, also, ruled Suriname between 1799 and 1815! We both have native Amerindians; descendants of African slaves and indentured Indians – and very porous borders. True, Suriname has descendants of indentured Javanese, but we have Portuguese! Point of the matter is that oil was struck off our common shores, and its development can deepen our commonality along with the Corentyne Bridge and the Open Skies Agreement just signed.
Both our countries are short of manpower, and we can use the synergies to craft closer bonds.

…border policy
To those claiming the Government was “racist” to detain the 26 Haitians being smuggled to Brazil, what do they say about the refusal to allow 1000 Cubans from Suriname to enter?
Isn’t this the execution of a neutral border policy?