…says Opposition launching counter-offensive ahead of 2020 polls
The Peoples Progressive Party (PPP) believes that the President’s unilateral action in appointing retired Justice James Patterson as head of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) is but the first shot in a pathway to a rigged 2020 elections.
As such, the party has moved to set up an internal group meant to combat any rigging attempts by the David Granger led Administration including the early training of its polling agents among other measures.
The counter measures were announced on Wednesday by Opposition Leader Dr Bharrat Jagdeo who was at the time speaking at a media conference venued at his Church Street Office.
Jagdeo was adamant that the fight for free and fair election was not one for the PPP but for all Guyanese.
“This is not about who win the elections,” the Opposition Leader told media operatives as he disclosed that among the outreaches, the party will be reaching out to the ABC countries.
The Opposition leader told media operatives that what had transpired over the appointment of the GECOM Chairman has lead the party to now have a distrust for the list of voters.
According to Jagdeo, the PPP currently harbours concerns about the database at GECOM.
The opposition leader in pointing to his party’s belief that Government is setting the stage for a rigged 2020 elections pointed too to fears over the potential tampering of birth certificates at the Ministry of Citizenship headed by Minister Winston Felix.
“We are training our polling agents already,” he disclosed as the party prepares to ensure that votes cannot be stolen at the level of polling place.
Speaking to media operatives on the matter, the former President used the occasion to point out the furor that has been sparked across the country’s civil society organisations, the private sector, religious leaders and individuals who spoke out against the appointment.
Jagdeo insists the matter flies in the face of the rule of law and said the only persons in support of the President, are from the Peoples National Congress/Reform (PNC/R).
He was adamant the President’s departure from the 25-year-old precedent, accepted by both the PNC and PPP, in the form of the Carter Formula will have “grave implications for our future for the well-being of the country.”
The Opposition leader was adamant, “this seems to be the first shot in a path that would lead to rigged election…that this is just the precursor of many other similar undemocratic acts that will follow that will lead to a denial of free and fair elections in Guyana.”
Jagdeo reminded that “this fear is justified given the documented history of the rigging of elections by PNC.”
Jagdeo used the occasion to also react to those that have been calling for the Opposition to just drop the matter and move on, highlighting that the actions of the President is in fact in violation of the Constitution.
Speaking to the matter of Constitutional Reform, Jagdeo told those in attendance at his Church Street Office, that the PPP was looking for compliance with the Constitutional provisions.
Turning his attention to the perceived disdain with which the President views the Chief Justice’s ruling, Jagdeo pointed to Granger’s reported assertions that he did not have to provide reasons for the refusal of any of the 18 names provided.
According to the Opposition Leader, the pronouncement by the Chief Justice was not a statement—as it was referred to by the President—but rather a court ruling that has to be complied with.
He was quick to point out also that while the President may be immune from personal prosecution, his decisions can be challenged in court.
The opposition leader also used the occasion to expand on his party’s decision to adopt a campaign of non-cooperation with government but clarified that elected and constitutional positions will not be shirked.
According to the Opposition leader, the party is looking to be guided by three core principles and in this regard singled out that, “where ever we have to perform statutory functions by virtue of being elected by the people,” or functions required by the Constitution and by law the party will participate.
Jagdeo said too the party will remain engaged in activities where it can be afforded the opportunity to ‘expose the wrongdoings and corruption on the part of the incumbent Administration.’
He reported too that the party has since also taken a position on its participation in the National Assembly.
According to Jagdeo, “We will go to Parliament,” as well as to continue to field its GECOM Commissioners.
Jagdeo explained the position saying, “our fear is they could very well take decisions that in our absence will be inimical…it is clear to me they are planning to rig the elections and we are not going to disappear because that is their intention…We are not going to cringe up and go into a corner and lie there…we are not going to get away from the country and hand it over to them.”
According to Jagdeo, “we will participate in bodies where we can advocate for the benefit for people and we can defend their interests.”
He was adamant however, the party will not be participating in any Government related activities that are not on the periphery of its core focus.
The opposition leader told media operatives that as the PPP ‘ups the ante,’ the President will be met with protest action in each of the Regions he will travel to.
According to Jagdeo, President Granger will be “faced with protest action exposing the illegalities he committed.”
Jagdeo said he is convinced, the President “and the others knew that he was acting unconstitutionally and against the Chief Justice’s ruling and that is why they hurried in the late hours of the night and swore in Patterson.”
The Opposition Leader posited that the action on the part of the Administration to swear in Patterson at 20:30hrs at night was in order to prevent the opposition approaching the court to halt the entire affair.
Jagdeo will tomorrow lead a delegation to Berbice, where the party intends to continue with its sensitization campaign following the unilateral appointment of Justice (rtd) Patterson—in the process rejecting a total of 18 nominees submitted by the Leader of the Opposition.
This past weekend, he fielded a delegation to Region One as part of the party’s reaction to the GECOM fallout.