Machinations to postpone elections

January 17, 2020 0 Comments

first_imgDear Editor,Finally, it seems that the machinations to postpone the Local Government and General Elections are set in motion.It must be recalled that after Dr Jagan wrote to US President George Bush in December 1989, pleading with him to support free and fair elections in Guyana, it actually took until October 5th 1992 before such an election can be held, nearly three years after. There was a drastic need to completely sanitize the voting system, since the entire voting machinery had become so geared in favour of rigging by the PNC.It is an undeniable fact that all the elections from 1968 — 1973, 1980, and 1985 — were massively rigged. The 1978 referendum was also massively rigged. Therefore, the entire voting system had to be revamped: from the Chairman of GECOM, to the Chief Elections Officer, to the voters’ lists, to the counting of votes at the places of poll, and so many other administrative and logistical issues had to be attended to before a free and fair election could be held.Indeed, with strong support from the US Government, the Carter Center, the Electoral Assistance Bureau, the UNDP Development Agency, and of course a constitutionally elected GECOM Chairman and a host of local and regional bodies, a free and fair election held in October, 1992 rectified the ‘grave injustice’ that was meted to not only Dr Jagan, but the Guyanese people.Now, after just three years in Government, and numerous alleged corrupt transactions which have now caused ‘government corruption’ to be highlighted in the United States Drugs Report to be the main source of money laundering, the PNC knows too well that it will never retain power in a free and fair election.The economy is sinking, and the old PNC habits of spending recklessly and borrowing indiscriminately are back with a bang.Therefore, with General Elections due in 2020 and LGE due December this year, the PNC needs to buy or borrow time to put its machinery in action, with the hope of using billions in oil dollars to finance it.The PNC has so far been successful in unconstitutionally appointing the GECOM Chairman. It has cut the GECOM Budgetary allocation by $1 billion, even though the Opposition strenuously argued against this, and now Chief Elections Officer Keith Lowenfield says that more than that sum is required for house-to-house registration. On top of that, it will take at least a year to be done. The PPP has refused to play the PNC’s game from the inception.The PPP had pointed out in October 2017 that the late appointment of the GECOM Chairman will have dire consequences for the timely holding of elections. The Opposition Chief Whip had reminded the Government that the GECOM Chairman plays several major roles, including signing the orders to begin the next cycle of continuous registration and acquire new identification cards, hold a next round of house-to-house registration, to have preliminary and final voters lists or for Guyana to go to elections at the local, regional or national levels. Now the purpose of this delaying tactic is clear.It must be recalled that Mr Ramjattan at that time had stated, “I would not countenance, at this stage, any circumstance for the delay of elections; and I would want to say that I would ensure, as Chairman of my party, that is in this partnership with APNU (A Partnership for National Unity) that we do have the elections in 2020.” So I do wonder if Mr Ramjattan still holds this view after APNU is now calling for house-to-house registration with the main purpose of postponing the elections.In 1989 even, the late Desmond Hoyte had said that the errors in the voters list were “too many, too serious, and too pervasive”.Yet, despite all the work done, in 1992 we had a situation where the list was still not perfect, the Elections were held, and no one questioned the veracity of the results. It took 2 years, and still there were minor flaws. In this case, there were numerous cycles of continuous registration being done all the time, and if there was a need for house-to-house registration, it should have been done by the timely appointment of the GECOM Chairman and the appropriate budgetary allocation. APNU did not see the need and cut the budget. Moreover, there is an acceptable limit of error, and a few instances of fake IDs should not be the reason for the postponement of the LGE and General Elections.GECOM needs to clean up its act by ensuring that dishonest practices are weeded out.The PPP has made it clear that it is willing to go to the polls with the voters list, as it is disallowing the PNC General Secretary’s call for house-to-house registration to sanitize the lists, and has exposed the intention of the PNC. The time to do that is long gone, and our elections should not be delayed. The LGE will confirm the abysmal failure of this Coalition Government, and they must not be allowed to hide this fact.Yours sincerely,Haseef YusufRDC Councillor,Region 6last_img read more