Jan 12, 2012 Letters
Mr. Vishnu Bisram – in his letter titled “GECOM performed admirably in the elections” (KN 07.01.2012) is among the very few who has demonstrated their courage in commending the manner in which the Guyana Elections Commission carried out its mandated responsibilities in conducting the 2011 General and Regional elections.
This move by Mr. Bisram is commendable, given the fact that Mr. Ian McDonald had done similarly and had consequently enraged Mr. Freddie Kissoon.
Following up on Mr. Bisram’s letter, I take this opportunity to bring attention to a few relative issues.
The 2006 General and Regional Elections, the results of which was accepted by Mr. Robert Corbin, was deemed by all concerned, including the local and foreign observers, as the best ever conducted in Guyana given the peaceful nature, the fairness and the ease in which it was conducted.
In fact, one may very well recall that the People’s National Congress Reform – 1Guyana had been publicly advocating “NO VERIFICATION-NO ELECTION”, but had still accepted the results of the elections.
Noteworthy in this matter is that Dr. Steve Surujbally was the Chairman of GECOM in 2006 and Mr. Gocool Boodooo was the Chief Election Officer.
There were no accusations then that these two gentlemen were in any kind of collusion with the PPP/C which won a majority in Parliament at elections which were held without any heed being paid to the “NO VERIFICATION-NO ELECTION” calls. Also, there were no calls then for the removal or resignation of any of these two gentlemen.
Now, we are faced with a situation in which no one has identified any irregularity perpetrated by Dr. Surujbally or Mr. Boodoo which compromised the quality of the 2011 elections. Yet the Youth Coalition for Transformation Organization, which is integrally linked to APNU, is calling for the resignation/removal of these two senior ranking GECOM officials.
Is it enough to call for the resignation/removal of these two gentlemen on mere speculation? I think not and I’m positive many others share my position but have chosen not to make theirs known for fear of being reprimanded by those who are bent on undermining the integrity of the GECOM.
Bear in mind, while all of this is ongoing, no one is acknowledging that three of the members of GECOM were nominated for appointment by the Opposition Political Parties in the last Parliament, and no one is calling for any of them to resign or be removed, albeit they would have been intrinsically associated with the administering and the outcomes of the recent elections.
Notwithstanding, the results of the 2011 elections were declared earlier than those of 2006, many supposedly learned personalities, including leading journalists, have lashed out at GECOM for having taken too long to announce the results of the recent elections.
It could not have missed those so called learned persons that the announcement of the results of the elections is legally dependent upon the respective Returning Officers first having declared the results of the elections in the 10 Electoral Districts.
For emphasis it must be noted that the law requires that this be done. In this regard, it is my understanding that the Returning Officer’s declaration for District 4 was not done until noon on December 1, 2011. How then could Mr. Boodoo have been expected to declare the results earlier than was done?
One can very well appreciate people’s anxiety while they were awaiting the announcement of the results. However, perceived delays ought not to translate into accusations of mischief and calls for resignation/removal.
On this note, it might be worthwhile to point out that while it took GECOM less than three days to announce the results of the elections, it has taken APNU in excess of three weeks to “verify” the Statements of Poll provided by GECOM, and this Party to date has not indicated any disagreement with the results announced by the Commission. Instead, APNU has now called on the Commission to grant access to the originals of the Statements.
Anyone knowledgeable about the election process will know that any political party worth its salt, especially one as big as APNU, would have fielded agents at all of the 2000-plus Polling Stations and would have been in possession of authentic copies of the respective Statements of Poll. Why then is the Youth Coalition for Transformation calling for the resignation/removal of Dr. Surujbally and Mr. Boodoo? Should this organisation not be seeking answers from APNU instead?
I have noticed attempts by some media personnel to twist the admitted erroneous calculation of the seat allocation as a deliberate ploy to give the PPP/C a majority in Parliament. Further, attempts have been made to give the impression that the observation of the error emerged from the vigilance of an Opposition nominated Commissioner.
I fail to understand the hue and cry of this thrust when, as has been noted in the media, legally and procedurally the Chief Election Officer is required to submit the results of the Elections – including the allocation of seats – to the Commission for ratification by the Commission.
This was done and the error was observed and the required adjustment was made with the unanimous agreement of the entire Commission and Mr. Boodoo. How then can this be seen as the involvement of Dr. Surujbally to give the PPP/C a majority in Parliament?
Finally, it boggles the mind that in an election where the opposition political parties have gained the collective majority in Parliament, how there can be accusations of rigging the elections. Hopefully, the Report of the International and Local Observers would put to rest all such accusations in order that Guyana could move forward with progress and development.
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