The statistics (An interesting statistic: SN, Wed. Dec.7, 2011) presented by GECOM Commissioner, Bud Mangal, say much and also nothing. It says much to the extent that one can make statistical interpretations of the aggregate voting shifts between 2006 and 2011.
But it says nothing as it pertains to the reliability of the statistics. That he then asks, “So why all the protest and shouting?” in spite of his deficient presentation, suggests levels of callous and portentous considerations at GECOM especially when the language pattern and demeanor of Dr. Steve Surujbally (GECOM’S Chairman) at GECOM’s press briefings are taken into account.
At elections all over the world there will always be candidates and supporters who would attempt to or succeed at manipulating the electoral processes and/or outcomes. The USA for example is no different. One fundamental question then becomes, whether the irregularities are substantial enough to change the outcomes of the elections.
Another is whether the arbiter of the elections has proven to be credible, respectful and respected, and therefore has moral weight to ensure social stability and discipline among contestants. Dr. Surijbally described the recent elections as impeccable but many of us know that there were many irregularities. Even personnel within GECOM have shared some concerns privately.
We cannot be sure though about the cost of those irregularities, whether a price was paid for their occurrence, or whether they were just incidental and of no substantial effect. In Guyana, just an additional parliamentary seat one way or the other could have huge implications for race and political relations, the character of the state, behavior of our institutions and standards of public accountability, direction and performance of the economy, etc.
So, the Guyanese people have a right to know whether APNU’s concerns are valid, malicious, or mistaken. They have a right to know whether GECOM has been compromised and to what extent. GECOM cannot be above questioning.
It is the property of the people of Guyana, not a sectional interest. It is obligated to perform and communicate in a manner that the nation can trust.
At least, APNU’s supporters have a political and moral right to demand a review of, and or transparency in the counting process of the statements of poll insofar as they are aware of irregularities.
They have a right to protest GECOM’s intransigence. They also have a right to protest against those who seek to excuse or collaborate with that intransigence, or are dismissive of their concerns. And against those who tend to see right and wrong conveniently in this society to the detriment of the common good.
Note, no credible democracy has even been constructed without protest, and none has been preserved without it.
The fundamental truth is that power tends to concede nothing unless it is forced to do so. It also tends to resist change until it could no longer do so.
Thus, to argue that APNU should only resort to the courts is to fear political chess, and/or express a deficient understanding of harsh political realities and dynamics.
The only demand that must be made is that the protest be conducted honourably and scientifically.
The common good can be obtained without lawlessness, criminal conduct, injury to anyone or “dirty hands” at work.
The AFC’s lesson is instructive. In 2006 owing to the intransigence of the same GECOM, AFC was forced to go to court over a parliamentary seat it won in Region 10. The matter did not only take an extraordinarily long time to resolve but the PPP/C never gave up the seat. Basically, in the political arena if you want to be a church mouse you will be eaten by the church cats.
I am not aware of any law which prohibits a review or which makes a review obligatory. Even if there was such a statutory limitation, that would have been unjust and injurious to the principles of natural justice.
But an institutional mind that is committed to integrity would easily recognize the superior value of exercising common sense over intransigence.
More importantly, we need to recognize that if we want to put Guyana first it is essential that the composition and conduct, form and appearance, of our institutions are trustworthy.
No trust, no sense of security; no political, social and economic environment fertile for stability, increased production and productivity.
And in this Guyanese environment where trust is scarce, institutional and interpersonal subversive tactics are usual, and the habit of lies, deceit, and hypocrisy formidably transcend class, race, age, gender, parties, private and public organisations, it is critical that institutions such as GECOM, in the interest of setting the foundation for transformation of this country, demonstrate the highest level of integrity and transparency, even if painstakingly.
But the elections of 2006 and 2011 indicate that GECOM must be purified for the common good.
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I have been doing columns since 1988. I have been a major columnist with the Catholic Standard, Stabroek News, Kaieteur... more