LETTER: GECOM should stop this charade and move into elections mode

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Dear Editor,

The rule of law is the foundation upon which modern civilisation rests. In its absence, anarchy prevails!

Dictators are born when those in authority remain silent as our Constitution and the rule of law are trampled upon in hope that someone else will have the courage to speak up. And very often, the rhetoric lacks teeth: The threat of sanctions and the political will to implement them. While no one wants to see Guyana return to the dark days of election rigging, election violence and the wanton destruction of private property that is the hallmark of the PNC, one cannot disregard the dangerous and irresponsible threat made by Attorney General Basil Williams at a forum held at the Marriott Hotel, where he alluded to violence and the destruction of property if Government should lose this election.

I caution, this is not a threat to be taken lightly.

There are also growing evidence and real concerns that the man who many thought possessed the attributes of a great leader is showing signs of impending tyranny that mimics his idol. But times have changed. We’re living in an era of advanced technology and instant communication. David Granger will never be allowed to replicate the things Forbes Burnham got away with.

In the recent case brought before Chief Justice (ag) Roxane George in the High Court by the outspoken advocate against corruption, Attorney Christopher Ram, challenging the legality of the House-to-House (HtH) Registration, the Chief Justice last Thursday ruled that although the HtH is not illegal or unconstitutional in itself, residency is not a qualifying requirement, and therefore the names of those on the list of the National Register of Registrants (NRR) and Official List of Electors (OLE) cannot be removed unless deceased or they become disqualified.

This ruling vindicates the PPP/C’s call to the nation to boycott the HtH Registration to protect the constitutional right of every Guyanese to vote, regardless of where they may be, provided they’re already on the NRR database and are in Guyana on Election Day. Although the Court refused to set a date or a deadline for elections, the Chief Justice made it clear that there should be compliance with the provisions of the Constitution. That is, elections in three months.

The Chief Justice also ruled that GECOM cannot operate as if it is in a dormant elections cycle, which echoes the ruling of the CCJ that, “The Guyana Elections Commission (“GECOM”) has the responsibility to conduct that election and GECOM too must abide by the provisions of the Constitution”.

What is puzzling, however, is GECOM’s reluctance to stop the HtH Registration when nothing can be achieved from continuing this process. The Chief Justice already ruled that the names of those on the list of the National Register of Registrants (NRR) and Official List of Electors (OLE) cannot be removed unless deceased, or they become disqualified. So, what’s the point in continuing this charade? Why does the new GECOM Chairperson have to wait to receive a hard copy of the Chief Justice’s ruling before deciding on the way forward?

You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to see that this is another delaying tactic being employed by GECOM.

Readers may recall that GECOM’s original plan was to scrap the database known as the National Register of Registrants (NRR) and create a new one. If this was allowed to continue without being challenged, every eligible Guyanese who has a Guyana National Identification Card and is already on the NRR database, but who was not home at the time the GECOM scrutineers visited would have been deleted from the List and could not vote in the upcoming elections.

But now, because of the Chief Justice’s ruling last Thursday, if you are on vacation, if you are in the interior working or some other place away from home, if you are a bush pilot and is hardly ever home, or if you’re sick or giving birth in a nearby hospital, GECOM cannot now take you off the List if you’re not home or refuse to reregister when the scrutineers come visiting. And don’t let them con you into believing that if you don’t register, you wouldn’t be able to use your current ID card to do business next year, that’s not true! And certainly no one can charge you for “not registering” if you already have a Guyana National Identification Card that says you’re already registered.

So why is GECOM continuing to spend billions of dollars on a useless HtH campaign now that the Chief Justice has ruled that eligible voters cannot be deregistered? Why is it taking so long for the new GECOM Chairman to act?

The only clear pathway in keeping with its constitutional obligations is for GECOM to now swiftly move to Claims and Objections and stop or postpone this charade.

The Leader of the Opposition has been very tolerant and reasonable since the passage of the No-Confidence Motion, emphasising the need for Government and the Opposition to work together in the best interest of our country. But after Granger’s unwillingness to negotiate in good faith, to accept the conditions under Article 106(6) and 106(7) of our Constitution and to call elections within the allotted three-month timeframe; and because of his determination to stay in power all cost, we see no need to return to Parliament to give this cabal legitimacy through a two-thirds majority vote to further plunder the resources of our nation by campaigning under the guise of ministerial outreaches. So, for all intents and purposes, David Granger and his entire Administration are all usurpers, illegal, illegitimate and unconstitutional.

But despite his public pronouncement that he’s waiting on GECOM to advise him, it seems that David Granger has already set a date for elections. This was revealed last Friday during a disappointing Skeldon outreach by Minister within the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs, Valerie Garrido-Lowe while speaking to about five supporters and over 150 empty chairs. She announced that “Elections will be this year, according to the President.”

Then during a press conference, the PNC/APNU chief apologist, WPA Executive Member David Hinds “forecasts” that elections could be held “sometime in December”.

This decision to have elections one year after the no-confidence motion is believed to have been made at Congress Place, and is being leaked to influence GECOM to give the Administration more time. It is therefore obvious that the Government Commissioners at GECOM are being used to carry out the mandate of the PNC Leader and others at Congress Place. That must stop now!

Sincerely,

Harry Gill