Alliance For Change (AFC) Executive, Dominic Gaskin, who is also the son-in-law of caretaker President David Granger, said that he is not prepared to “blindly” support any political party as he faces criticism over a damning statement he made recently.
In a social media post on Friday, Gaskin, a former Minister in Granger’s APNU/AFC coalition Administration, said among other things that “The claims of fraud were grossly exaggerated and, unfortunately, designed to fool party supporters, who had placed their faith in the coalition, into believing that there was actual evidence of serious elections rigging by the PPP-C (People’s Progressive Party/Civic).”
However, Gaskin came in for criticism from APNU/AFC sympathiser Tacuma Ogunseye, who questioned several aspects of his statement in a letter to the editor that was published on Sunday.
But in response, Gaskin stood by his statement.
“…Mr. Ogunseye ends his letter with “… he is playing to the `gallery’ and as a politician, is entitled to do so.” I can assure him that, for me, there is no gallery. I was not a candidate in these elections, and I have no political ambitions. I am simply not prepared to blindly support any political party. My loyalty is to my country,” he contended in a subsequent letter to the editor on Sunday.
Gaskin went on to explain that his comment on “seriously rigged election” pertains to the National Recount period, which he said he stands by.
“For me, a seriously rigged election is one which provides an outcome that does not reflect the will of the electorate. In our case, an outcome where the most votes are awarded to a party for which the most votes were not cast. In other words: the outcome which [Returning Officer Clairmont] Mingo was attempting to produce,” he stated.
The 34-day National Recount had unearthed that the embattled District Four RO heavily inflated figures in favour of the APNU/AFC coalition and reduced PPP/C’s votes.
According to Gaskin, the claims of electoral fraud were inferential in nature – relying on bold headlines, repetition and the use of words such as “massive”, “gargantuan”, “widespread” and “intense” to scale up their impact.
“To me, the target audience of these statements could only have been APNU+AFC supporters, since other persons refused to even entertain them. The evidence provided was either weak, or insufficient to establish that there was fraud to an extent that could affect the outcome of the entire election in any region. There was little real evidence of PPP-C involvement in any of the irregularities uncovered during the recount. In other words, all we have are a number of irregularities, many of which can be attributed to human error – unlike the Mingo declarations – and which do not show a result that is grossly inconsistent with normal voting patterns in Guyana,” he asserted.
While the coalition may have been the beneficiary of what Mingo was attempting to do, and he may have been put up to it by some rogue element(s) within the coalition, as a member of the AFC’s National Executive and, at the time, privy to discussions taking place at the highest levels of the party, Gaskin categorically stated that there was no awareness within the AFC of anyone acting to falsify the results of the elections – something which he said he also believes “for the most part” of the APNU fraction of the coalition.
Moreover, Gaskin went on to clarify that he never suggested that the irregularities uncovered during the recount exercise be dismissed. In fact, he urged that whenever the next Government is sworn in, it should properly investigate this and explain it to the public as a priority.
“Any wrongdoing should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” he posited.
In this same breath, however, he pointed out that, “…this is first and foremost a GECOM problem and, given that it is the stronghold of one of the major parties, I am of the view that invalidating the votes in those polling stations would provide a final result that is much less reflective of the will of the people than accepting them with the inclusion of possible phantom votes. In other words, while I believe the matter should be investigated, I do not believe it should detain us at this point from a final declaration. This is just my layman’s view,” Gaskin surmised.