The long overdue elections, which should have been held by March 21, 2019, following the December 21, 2018, No-Confidence Motion (NCM), now appear to be confirmed for March 2, 2020. That’s just about a year after it was constitutionally due and six months after the new September 18, 2019 deadline following APNU/AFC’s recourse to the courts.
That said, the caretaker President, David Granger, having been evasive on a definite date, on Tuesday signed the much-awaited proclamation which is needed to legally establish that date. With that settled and the crucial Claims and Objections (C&O) process also commenced, the various campaigns will be intensified. Key, is the elections being free and fair.
The Opposition, People’s Progressive Party (PPP), has raised concerns over operations within the Secretariat of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM). One area was the announcement of the need for prospective voters to verify their registration during C&O. That requires all persons, whose names appear on the Preliminary List of Electors (PLE), to visit registration offices to conduct that verification process in order to be included on the Official List of Electors (OLE).
That was vehemently opposed by the PPP given the fact that it’s unnecessary and would result in unimaginable logistical challenges. Importantly, it was seen as allegedly orchestrated by some within the Secretariat to impose a residency requirement which contravenes a ruling by the Chief Justice. That created potential to have persons already registered removed from the PLE. On Tuesday, GECOM revoked that registration requirement process.
That not only underscores the needlessness of that process, but the concerns raised by the Opposition over GECOM’s Secretariat. Leading members of the international community have since indicated their willingness to provide support to ensure that the upcoming elections are free and fair. What is imperative, is for all Guyanese to do his/her part during the C&O process to ensure that a credible OLE is derived and to remain guarded against possibly deliberate attempts to frustrate the process.
As the preparations at the various levels unfold, reflecting on events over the last nice months will not only reveal the callous disregard for the Constitution on the part of the APNU/AFC coalition, but, among others, how the NCM forced the Government to make itself available to residents and implement a number of community development projects.
Many have openly stated that had it not been for the NCM, most, if not all, ministers would have remained in the comfort of their plush offices rather than being in the fields to observe the daily challenges Guyanese face. There were little or no Cabinet outreaches prior to December 21, 2018, and limited infrastructural development within communities.
Since, there have been a plethora official events, albeit, extravagant, for the Government to interact with the citizenry and a very noticeable increase in much-needed works in some communities. An argument can be made over a possible preference, in terms of political support, for the communities to benefit.
In some, paved roads and street lights are needs now being satisfied while communities within the hinterland region are being frequently visited and are recipients of a variety of government hand-outs. In addition, some main public roadways have seen vital remedial works while projects, like the Sheriff Street expansion, and road and housing development, especially in Sophia, are proceeding at seemingly rapid rate.
Given the APNU/AFC’s history in office since May 2015, such undertakings would not have materialised had it not been for the successful NCM brought against them by the PPP. Similarly, officials, who have recently been braving elements of the weather to interact with residents, even though it seems glaringly to solicit their support, may not have done so.
In many ways, whatever is now being done by the APNU/AFC coalition seems deliberately designed to distract from its dismal record in office as the election approaches. Important to note, is that projects executed, like the Sheriff Street and the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA) expansions, were all envisaged by the PPP. It’s the same for the East Bank and West Demerara road projects. Reports suggest that the funding of the road and housing development in Sophia are from loans agreed to when the PPP was in office.
Reportedly, some West Berbice residents, who are now painfully counting their losses as a result of flooding, raised concerns over the deteriorating condition of related infrastructure design to safeguard. It seems those concerns were ignored leading to the current plight which could have been avoided.
These examples, which show a lack of visionary thinking on the part of the APNU/AFC, can also suggest its gross neglect of residents’ concerns prior to December 21, 2018. Having implemented some infrastructural work only because of the NCM, it appears that despite APNU/AFC’s desperate attempts to ignore it and have it invalidated, it was the impetus to force them to stop snubbing citizens.
Seemingly only budging when forced, public pressure may have forced the election proclamation. Again, that underlines APNU/AFC’s seeming unwillingness to genuinely act in the interest of all.