Given the recent issues emanating from the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) over the alleged ethnic imbalance of its workforce and its selective hiring process, Opposition Leader Dr Bharrat Jagdeo has vowed to fight against any form of election rigging.
Jagdeo has repeatedly expressed concerns over the possibility of there being rigged elections in 2020 and for the upcoming Local Government Elections (LGE) in December this year. He has accused the coalition of allegedly crafting certain strategies that have the potential to jeopardise the entire electoral process.
“We expected this; we have lived with this a very long time. But they (Government) are not going to deter us from fighting aggressively for free and fair elections. They are not going to break our spirit with these appointments. And there will be consequences,” he told a news conference on Thursday.
Jagdeo was referring to a recent decision taken by GECOM Chairman Retired Justice James Patterson, who used his deciding vote to appoint Roxanne Myers as Deputy Chief Elections Officer (DCEO), over Vishnu Persaud. Persaud not only held that post for three years, but was more qualified for the post, he said.
Meanwhile, he has also put the Government on notice that there would be serious consequences if it was found culpable of rigging any of the upcoming elections in Guyana.
“There will be consequences. If they think that they (Government) can rig the elections and have the kind of peace that we have now, they’re wrong…very, very wrong. I hope they are not thinking that in their calculation,” he added.
Referring to the issues which all three PPP-nominated GECOM Commissioners have experienced in recent weeks, Jagdeo said the behaviour of Chairman Patterson and the People’s National Congress (PNC)-nominated Commissioners did not inspire confidence.
Jagdeo said, “There will be an attempt given the nature of the PNC. An attempt to try to tamper with the elections, but they are not going to find us sitting down, so if (Joseph) Harmon and the others think that we are going to be walk-over, etcetera, he better disabuse his mind from that notion.”
He continued, “… I am making it clear about that and it’s not coded language, because then the nature of the struggle will be different. We will be struggling against an illegal, illegitimate Government that is not in power through the ballot and it will be a different form of struggle, totally different.”
Although he believes that the stage is being set to rig the 2020 elections, the PPP General Secretary made clear that such a task could not stand in an open and democratic society. “There will be an attempt given the nature of the PNC, an attempt to try to tamper with the elections,” he added.
Jagdeo’s party has also raised concerns in relation to Government’s attempt to allegedly pad the voters’ list. Only recently, Jagdeo also raised concerns again about thousands of Haitian nationals who arrived in Guyana, but many of them have not left the country. He alleged that they may have been trafficked here.
He also raised concerns over the Government moves to create new townships as a means of trying to tamper with the current system and create an avenue for them to allegedly tamper with the votes.