(The following is an opinion piece penned by veteran politician and former PPP Government Minister, Dr. Leslie Ramsammy)
The rejection of the nominees for Chair of GECOM by President Granger is not only an assault on freedom and democracy, it is seizing power through a coup. First, it is a repudiation of the APNU+AFC Coalition and a declaration that the PNC is now essentially the government. Second, it is a declaration that the PNC will stay in power for as long as they wish, not through electoral mandate, but trough machinations of the electoral process. In short a new era of rigging is now being entrenched.
We should not be under any illusion – APNU+AFC has decided to stay in government for as long as they can get away with it, without the will of the people. They have implemented a strategy to repeat what the PNC did between 1968 and 1992 – rig elections in order to remain in power. Their latest move to reject the nominees for the Chairmanship of GECOM from the Leader of the Opposition is setting the stage to name a Chairman in their own deliberate judgment, a person that will carry out instructions from APNU+AFC, in the same sinister fashion as Judge Harry Bollers did prior to 1992.
President Granger has indicated that the reason for rejecting the six nominees from Bharat Jagdeo, the Leader of the Opposition, is that the constitution demands the Chairman be a Judge, as Bollers was. But under the agreement and the amended constitution, the Chairman of GECOM is selected by the President from a list of six persons nominated by the Leader of the Opposition. That was the compromised position in 1992 and that has been the way the Chairman has been elected since then. This is not just a tradition, this is the way we overwhelmingly agreed to name the Chairman of GECOM.
None of the Chairmen of GECOM since 1992 has been a Judge. Rudy Collins (1992) was selected by Desmond Hoyte from a list of six persons named by Cheddi Jagan. All the other Chairmen – Mr. Hopkinson, Doodnauth Singh, Joe Singh and Steve Surujbally were selected by a PPP Government after six persons were nominated by the People’s National Congress. None of these gentlemen were judges and only Doodnauth Singh was a lawyer. Indeed, none of the nominees from the People’s National Congress (24 in total) were judges.
It is hypocrisy at its grossest and absolute executive lawlessness for Granger to reject the nominee and signal that he will appoint the Chairman of GECOM in his own deliberate judgment. The Leader of the Opposition followed the Carter Agreement of 1992, followed the law and followed the PNC in selecting his list of six nominees. While some of the six could be deemed as friendly to the PPP, some have been merciless in their opposition to the PPP. But all of them have demonstrated professionalism.
The law is important, but assurance and creating an environment of harmony and social cohesion are equally important. Just as the seizing of the Cheddi Jagan Research Center is an act of dictatorial power, rather than upholding any law, the rejection of the six nominees by the Leader of the Opposition to be a next Chairman of GECOM is not about the law alone. It is a declaration by Granger that the PNC in the form of APNU+AFC has seized power in Guyana.
It is intended to be a silent coup, but the stink it has already created is a nightmare for Guyana. The rotten stench is in every home and every corner in our country. It has reached Guyanese and our friends, wherever they live. Freedom-loving people, especially those who fought and sacrifice to gain freedom in our country, are no longer under any illusion – Granger has used the AFC, like Burnham used the UF, to seize power and deny the Guyanese people their right to elect a government. Just as Granger is selecting a Chairman, he intends to select the government in the future. Election as we know it, the ones since 1992, are in jeopardy, on the extinct block.
The move by David Granger is not shocking, the DNA of Granger is solidly the DNA of Burnham and the PNC. He has done exactly what we warned people about prior to the 2015 elections. He has used the AFC to gain power, much like Burnham and the PNC used the UF to gain power. He has not waited as long as Burnham did to discard the AFC. The move to reject Jagdeo’s nominees is a “freedom” declaration of a sort. He has unequivocally declared that the APNU+AFC Coalition has served its purpose and it is time now for the PNC to expose itself. It never disappeared, it disguised itself and now it is ready to assume its place. As of now, the name APNU+AFC is just a name. The government of Guyana is the PNC.
Our freedom is in total jeopardy.