Alliance for Change Chairman, Khemraj Ramjattan, commenting on an article attributed to Speaker of the House, Ralph Ramkarran, on overseas votes, said that based on credible information he has been able to obtain from a PPP insider, that party along with the PNCR, is contemplating extending President Bharrat Jagdeo’s final term by another two years.
According to Ramjattan, the ploy is to bring a constitutional motion against the Guyana Elections Commission that unless overseas voters are registered and given the right to vote, Elections ought not to be held in 2011.
This, he said, is all part of the arrangement of the President, with Robert Corbin, to extend his term as was done by the late President Hugh Desmond Hoyte in 1990/1992.
“The PPP does not mind this extension, because they are in dire straits…So too is the PNC or more accurately, Corbin, who would not mind a further two years as Leader of the Opposition.”
Ramjattan said that the move is premised by the AFC’s increasing support which has been cause for concern in both parties for some time now.
The AFC Chairman said that the arrangement is that some members, from the PNC and from PPP in the Diaspora, will initiate the proceedings.
“The arguments which were used in the Esther Perreira case, where the ID card was made a big issue and ruled unconstitutional, will then be utilised…The case will be supported by a huge number of Diaspora petitioners who will get drawn in with the idea that they should be given the right to vote…As you know, many members of the Diaspora want to vote.”
According to Ramjattan, the PPP and PNC (largely Corbin who the AFC has learnt has been communicating with the President) know that the AFC has already made it public that the Diaspora be given a major voice.
“I had made this statement in Canada recently, and on that score had indicated that the AFC will have at least three Cabinet Ministers from the Diaspora if we won the next Elections.”
He is of the opinion that, “this is their counter which has the sinister purpose of leading to an extension to Jagdeo’s last term.
The AFC Chairman is of the view that the overseas votes will be rigged, “just like what happened under the PNC.”
He noted that GECOM will have to rely on the Foreign Affairs officers, all of whom are largely PPP agents, to register the overseas voters and this would be the source of huge problems.
“Would the government arrange for scrutineers to see the conduct of the exercise?”…How would GECOM or the competing parties know where to look for these Diaspora members to get them on the overseas list? What would be the arrangements on Voting Day?” According to Ramjattan, the idea was mooted for the 2001 Elections when he was a member of that party. “My recollection of Ralph’s (Ramkarran) view then was it was going to be a logistical nightmare, a position the entire set of people who it was put to for comments agreed with.
“I am surprised that today there is such a volte fas and somersaulting of positions from, of all people, Ralph Ramkarran.”
He posited that the motive behind the scheme is that the PPP is very nervous about its chances of winning the next Elections once held in 2011.
“It wants more time to realise a fruition of some of its policies by 2013, for example the turnaround of the sugar industry…The timeline given by Robert Persaud in the Economic Services Committee last week as all will recall is 2013.”
Ramjattan said that there are serious machinations behind the development, adding that the Bharrat Jagdeo administration wants to put GECOM and Dr. Steve Surujbally in a spin.
“The AFC will be watching how it unfolds with a hawk’s eye…I anticipate that the AFC will be asked the question: How come you want to exclude so many voters who have a right to vote?”
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