Election riggers will be held accountable – GECOM Commissioner

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…slams GHRA for silence on rig attempt but sudden rebirth to criticise IRI

Over a year has passed since the tumultuous March 2, 2020 General and Regional Elections and with several Guyana Elections Commission officials before the courts, GECOM Commissioner Sase Gunraj urged patience and remains hopeful that all who were complicit will face justice.

During an appearance on a “Let’s Talk Politics” show, Gunraj was hopeful that those complicit in election rigging will face justice. He also spoke about the expected political fallout for the main Opposition party – APNU/AFC – noting that the people are becoming more politically aware.

Commissioner Sase Gunraj

“A significant part of the electorate has already woken up…but wait. It will happen. As night follows day, it will happen. So be patient. The last time I admonished the same thing. Patience. The people are obviously waking up. And I would hope that persons are held accountable in a more meaningful manner than that which I just spoke about.”

International Republican Institute

The Commissioner also threw his support behind the International Republican Institute (IRI), in Guyana to do electoral reform with funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

The IRI is currently working on a project to strengthen the capacity of GECOM and the Attorney General’s Chambers, to lay the groundwork as it relates to electoral reform. The 18-month project is being supported by the US Department of State.

Gunraj pushed back at the Guyana Human Rights Association among others, which has criticised the IRI project and has urged the Caribbean Community (Caricom) to do the reforms.

“The Guyana Human Rights Association, in the face of such horrible atrocities a year ago, failed or neglected to even utter a single word. Issue a single statement. Take any stance upon the trampling of democracy,” Gunraj said.

The IRI has experience with Guyana, having supplied technical experts to GECOM to assist in the run up to last year’s elections. They come now at a time when Guyana is sorely in need of constitutional, and more so electoral reform following last year’s March elections, which led to a five-month tumultuous impasse.

Only recently, President Dr Irfaan Ali reassured that constitutional and electoral reforms are still a top priority for his Administration. He noted that work is already ongoing on both fronts.

Reforms critical

During a press conference last month, the Head of State, in response to a question from <<<Guyana Times>>>, contended that those reforms are “indeed critical.” According to President Ali, there is a lot of work currently ongoing regarding electoral reform.

“A lot of international agencies are in discussions with both GECOM and the different stakeholders. But, more importantly, we, as a people, have to start the discussion on electoral reform, but that is high on the agenda. Also important on that agenda is the strengthening of GECOM and the internal reform of GECOM itself. So that we can have the best professionals in there managing and running an election,” the President had posited.

Earlier this month, a group of labour unions, leaders and ordinary workers had joined forces to establish the “Labour for Electoral Reform” – a body focusing on championing the need for electoral reform in Guyana.

The Labour for Electoral Reform will be led by General Secretary of the Guyana Labour Union (GLU), Carvil Duncan, and its Secretary is General Secretary of the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU), Aslim Singh.

Speaking with this newspaper recently, Singh had explained that the entity is hoping to engage more with workers on their concerns and views on electoral reform. Singh further pointed out that the new body is hoping to meet with the IRI. (First published in the Guyana Times)