This is a country that is full of jumbies. During the crime wave we heard about phantom squads.
It was even claimed that a minister of the government headed a death squad. A commission of inquiry exonerated the minister. Then we heard that there was a phantom squad which was run by Roger Khan.
Now we are hearing accusations that there were phantoms in the register of PNCR members.
The media in Guyana has something to work with. The Van West Charles/ Winston Murray alliance has indicated that a sample taken of certain membership groups revealed false membership registration and padding.
It has reported that of a sample of 310 names, 20 were found to be dead, 15 had migrated and 66 persons denied signing membership forms. This means that there are alleged irregularities in respect to 101 persons out of 310 or more than 25 %.
The media should request the names on the sample and should carry out its own investigation to determine the veracity of what is being claimed. If it is found that there was indeed padding and falsification of the members roll, then there should be stepped up demands for the elections of the last Congress to be annulled and for a Special Congress to be held. The present Central Executive should be treated as de facto until a new Congress is held and a new Executive installed.
The PNCR will not be treated as a serious contender for political power unless it clears up this issue of the registration of members for the last Congress. The party will lose significant support and will pose no challenge to the PPP – not that it was expected to – in the 2011 elections.
There is a great deal of work to be done before national elections are to be held. These elections are going to run into problems unless certain important issues are addressed. If, for example, there continues to be a loss of confidence by the government in the leadership of the Commission we can very well have a situation whereby elections can be put off, thus engineering another unwanted crisis.
The PNCR therefore needs to detail sooner rather than later what position it is going to take in respect to the Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission. The present status quo provides for a process that involves both the Leader of the Opposition and the President in the appointment of a Chairperson.
We do have a Chairperson, but the President has signaled his concerns about the leadership being provided. And in the run-up to the last elections, the PNCR had indicated misgivings about the same Chairperson.
The fact that there may be absolutely no merit in the criticisms being leveled at the present Chairperson – who it must be said ran off a highly successful 2006 elections – the very fact that the Chairperson emerges out of a process which involves the President and the Leader of the Opposition means that if both parties have a problem with the Chairperson, there may be moves at the most unholy hour to have him removed, and this would be highly disruptive if it takes place near to an election.
It does not bode well for the country when the President will have concerns over the leadership of the Commission. If this becomes a major issue then we could very well end up with a situation where the present Chairman does not enjoy the confidence of either the government or the opposition. In this situation, his position would become untenable.
It is now therefore opportune for the cards to be laid on the table. The media must examine what everyone has to say. The Commission is saying that it was stymied by delays in obtaining funds for the voter identification cards. There ought not to have been any delay and the government must answer as to why there was a delay.
The government is also saying that there is a problem with leadership. Well how can anyone deliver without the resources?
The opposition has so far not pronounced on the issue, but if there is continued erosion of confidence in the work of the Chairman of the Commission, the opposition will have to come out and make known its position, because it is inconceivable for an election to be held in a situation where both the government and the opposition have problems with the leadership. Mind you, the opposition has so far not signaled any reservations about the leadership.
The opposition PNCR however has a problem. How much credibility is going to be given to how it feels considering the serious allegations that are hovering over its just-concluded Congress?
And this is all the more reason why greater clarity needs to be brought to what took place at its last Congress. The PNCR will enjoy diminished credibility in criticizing GECOM, if it is established that there were problems with its own elections.
The media needs to get to the bottom of this raging controversy. It needs to obtain that sample drawn from the membership roll and examine whether indeed there were phantoms on the members roll.
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