Letter: Appropriate changes must be operationalised at GECOM

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Dear Editor,

The constitutional mandate of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) engenders that the institution must, at all times, be fully prepared to hold free and fair elections. Local Government Elections (LGEs) is due this year. The lack of a definitive position from GECOM on the LGEs certainly threatens our national development thrust, and further undermines the revered democratic principles on which we stand for national, regional and global recognition.

The evolved circumstance, whereby our citizens are required to petition this call, informs troubling concerns regarding GECOM’s commitment and delivery of its constitutional role.

This is given the negative impact that GECOM’s failure to uphold this essential democratic pillar obtains. Indeed, the LGEs serve to sustain a key countercheck mechanism on community development at the municipal, community, and village levels. Similar to those elected to determine national policies in leading our country for defined periods, it is paramount that leaders at these levels also be brought to a decisive review point, held accountable by the citizens they serve for delivery of essential services, and in ensuring parallel development in partnership with the national plans.

It is of significant note that the People’s Progressive Party/Civic team has regained the confidence of the Guyanese people, with the astute leadership of His Excellency President Dr Irfaan Ali, General Secretary Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo, Prime Minister Brigadier (retd) Mark Phillips at the helm. Their exceptionally hard-working cadre of cabinet members has quickly demonstrated collective policy approaches that have poised Guyana for swift development at the national level. No agency or political system must be allowed to suppress these positive developments for biased individual, sentimental, secular, or otherwise power-driven aggrandisement.

We must therefore ensure a harmonised approach for the optimised delivery to citizens at the various levels, in which no community must be left behind in receiving the optimised resultant benefits as our economy thrives. Essential to this ideal is the key purpose of the LGEs, and one that GECOM is expected to recognise, support, and demonstrate in its expected timely assertion over the execution of this central role.

Editor, our nation’s greatest asset is our children, and they are now setting the pace in this part of the world. Amid the threatening COVID-19 pandemic, their development prioritisation to become our future leaders at every level is recognized, and now strongly supported by our new PPPC Government. In this respect, the revolutionised approach of the Government’s education delivery support is much admired, given the roll-out of the non-discriminatory scholarship programmes available to every child from every community or background. As for the PPP/C Government scholarship programme, mere words cannot adequately describe the success. So let us pause to congratulate our children/ students who are a revelation in education, what this Government maintains is not a privilege, but a must.

Notwithstanding the positive success stories of the Government at the national level, it is imperative for the Local Government mechanism in the urban/rural communities via the municipalities, Neighbourhood Democratic, and Village Councils to become bigger success stories as they work in partnership to advance essential community agenda. Stronger communities would naturally lead to better leadership at the grass roots levels, and this movement must not be suppressed by moves to deter the mechanism for its necessary review and advancement. Hence, we must have regular LGEs so that we will have more disciplined and trained persons at the local levels. In this framework, Electoral Reform is a necessity for development at all levels.

Given the lethargy now evident in GECOM, the PPP/C and civil society must work towards the swift advancement of all the necessary electoral reforms. Resistance to the necessary interventions in this regard is heavily justified at the national and international levels. In particular, the revamping of GECOM. GECOM cannot continue with the overwhelming evidence of thievery related to election fraud by key staff in the Secretariat. All those that are before the Courts for fraud must be sent home immediately.

Of note is the resistance being put up by oppositionist PNC elements and their surrogates, who have sought to ethnicise their rejections to improvements in transparency and fair practices targeted in these reforms. In context, the recent launch of the “Labour for Electoral Reform” committee, led by GLU General Secretary Carvil Duncan and its Secretary, the GAWU General Secretary Aslim Singh, is indeed admirable, given their representation of a wide conglomeration of workers’ support for these necessary reforms. The stifling of our democracy must never be supported. Cudos to Labour for Electoral Reform!

Critically, the Commission at GECOM must be cognisant of its leading role and functions within the limitations of its granted autonomy to be prepared to hold LGEs this year. Our Nation must not be held to ransom by fraudsters. We understand that there must be consultations and thorough discussions on the way forward. In addition, the rational parameters point to a need for international oversight and guidance of optional considerations in the process.

GECOM’s immediate agenda must be the purging of all the thieves and the preparation of the Register of all registrants. Adequate and appropriate changes must be operationalised to ensure that a smooth process takes place in the elections. None of the naysayers must be allowed to dictate the rigging process.

Guyana is on the rise, and our people must understand the world is looking at us, and we must transparently do things. Come on, Madam Chairwoman, do not permit the suppression of our children and emerging young leaders. Objectivity demands that you ensure the holding of LGEs this year is on the agenda.

Sincerely,
Neil Kumar