LETTER: President’s action a flagrant disregard of our Constitution

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Dear Editor,

On the night of October 19, 2017, Diwali night, the darkest night of the year, President Granger sworn in James Patterson as Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM). This act went against everything that President Granger said he was looking for in a person to chair GECOM. But worse, it was a flagrant disregard of our Constitution.

The President told the Opposition Leader that he was looking for a young person. He chose a man that is almost 85 years old. He spoke about the person not being an activist in any religious body.  Patterson is a pastor and obviously promotes one religion. He also said that the person should not have strong ties to any party. Well, Patterson has very close ties to the A Partnership for National Unity/People’s National Congress (APNU/PNC). His role at Desmond Hoyte’s funeral puts him as a PNC insider.

The matter is much more serious than those deceptive actions of the President, where he said one thing but did something else. This is yet another blow to our Constitution. It is an act to consolidate an undemocratic Government and establish a dictatorial regime in our country.

One has to come to such a conclusion because this is not an isolated act. It is a continuation of a series of unconstitutional acts since the PNC-led APNU seized power in 2015.

Just recall the amount of time that former Attorney General Anil Nandlall, had to go to the courts to defend our Constitution against its raping by the present Attorney General, Basil Williams.

It is also linked to the massive racial and political discrimination that has become a norm since this regime took power. Thousands of Indian Guyanese have been dismissed from their jobs in the public service. Even cleaners and drivers have been chased out of the Ministries. A virtual ethnic cleansing took place in the public service.

We should also take note of the employment practices of this regime. Again, here we see Indian Guyanese not being employed. One should take a walk at the Ogle training school for the public service and you will see that there is a clear policy not to employ Indian Guyanese by this regime. We also recall the massive onslaught on the Amerindian community when more than 2000 Amerindians were just dismissed early in the life of this regime.

It is for this reason that they are refusing to establish an Ethnic Relations Commission. They want to continue to walk on the human rights of people of this country without giving them any hope of redress.

The regime has also been engaged in destroying the institutions in our country. The Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU), which was set up to fight money laundering of drug money in particular, has been transformed into the political arm of the APNU/PNC regime. Its main purpose is to harass political opponents and others whom they want to purge from the public service. They seem to have set out to deliberately destroy the careers of some persons by dragging them before the courts.

This act is anti-national as well as unpatriotic. It is designed to strengthen the riggers in the Elections Commission. This body is rapidly losing credibility.

At the moment, a large part of its leadership is caught up in the scandal of corruption. The Auditor General’s report is devastating. The rip-off in the procurement area is enriching some. Millions of extra money has been spent to buy pliers, batteries and radios that were not used.

No reasonable explanation has been yet given. It is known that before the Auditor General publishes his findings, the agencies are given an opportunity to correct or dispute the findings. The Elections Commission has not come out with any plausible explanation.

The APNU regime is also threatening constitutional heads. Last weekend we saw a statement from the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) in which she was critical of SOCU’s investigations.

The regime via its strongman, Joseph Harmon, appears to have threatened the DPP. In the media he is reported to have strongly disagreed with the DPP. He went on to add that the regime was taking note of what the DPP said. In the context in which he said it, it sounded as a threat to the DPP. It was a clear signal that she should shut up.

Most importantly, this is unpatriotic because this regime knows from the experience of the PNC days in power, that actions such as this will affect every aspect of life in this country.

This will impact greatly on our economy. Investors will lose confidence in our country and not invest. Many will pull their investments and take them somewhere else. This will lead to loss of job opportunities and further increase the already high and growing unemployment level.

Since taking power, thousands have lost their jobs; most notably in the sugar industry where thousands are on the breadline.

This is not confined to sugar. Many local business people are shedding jobs as business has slowed down considerably.

In the circumstances, the regime will try to put the burden on one set of people, mainly Indian Guyanese. However, our experience should teach them that it is impossible to discriminate against one set of persons to help another, without hurting the very people they claim to want to help. Again, the PNC in power, 1964-1992, has taught us that. All will be affected.

The swearing in of James Patterson in the night, the darkest night of the year, is an ominous sign.

Donald Ramotar,

Former President

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