Democratic governance is not only about free and fair elections, but how those elected to govern treat with the people, the value they place on the branches and institutions of government, and how they manage the resources of state within the framework of the Constitution and Laws of Guyana.
As issues surrounding the 2020 election unfold in the courts and media, it is clear there is a stark division between the supporters of the major political forces.
Those of the Opposition believe the right to seek judicial recourse is not universal. It is hoped it is not lost on persons that whereas two weeks ago these supporters celebrated the court saying it can hear an injunction brought by the PPP against GECOM to stop the Region 4 Returning Officer from declaring results until a recount was done, that last Friday the table has turned.
Mr. Bharrat Jagdeo failed in his bid to get the court to accept his argument that it cannot hear the injunction brought by Ms. Ulita Moore to stop the recount. The court said Ms. Moore’s injunction can be heard. This is further evidence of universality in the judicature and citizens right to access its service when needed.
Supporters of the opposition should not find it discomfiting in understanding the satisfaction felt by the coalition supporters. Similar experience was theirs two weeks ago. Both sides are urged, notwithstanding the occasional glee or setback, to respect its important and vital role to the preservation of this nation’s health.
The importance of the court in adjudicating the various impasses should not be taken for granted. The Judiciary is the only branch of government to date that has remained unscathed in the politics of discrediting, undermining and destruction that Guyana is facing. This is why we should be concerned as citizens when both sides have taken their case to the court that the PPP General Secretary can pronounce “Court ruling or no court ruling the results are fraudulent.”
It is the court that interprets the laws and the only interpretation (opinion) that matters. Laws are important, because they serve as guidelines towards a civil society. Laws keep and guide us and help to maintain order. They are the only thing, in a world peopled by diverse groups, interests, values, cultures etc., that would prevent persons from taking advantage and exploiting others, even acting like barbarians. It would be a case of survival of the fittest and well connected.
Even in light of this, and as the nation awaits the court’s decision, there is also reckless and irresponsible speaking.
A few days ago, I watched Mr. Jagdeo in a recorded interview on social media. His comments were very disturbing. He claimed that if by chance, worst case scenario and President Granger is sworn in, they are compiling names of police and government workers, and the staff of GECOM, because there will be consequences for them and their families. One is only left to ponder what exactly this means.
There are also clear efforts at undermining the judiciary. It is a mistake for him to ignore that most of our citizens have not forgotten his stewardship as president, and that every successful election petition brought before the court from 1957 to date against the PPP, this party which formed the government, never honoured the court’s decisions.
Thus, when the PPP walks around this country and talks about rigged and fraudulent elections, thinking they are sending a subliminal message to a section in society that they are dishonest and have no moral authority to speak, let them not be fooled. Some see it as duty to let others know and those who know to not forget.
The 1997 election which led to a Janet Jagan presidency was vitiated. The High Court ruled the election null and void. In the election of 2006, the Alliance For Change (AFC) won a seat in Region 10. Under Gocool Boodoo as Chief Elections Officer, that seat was given to the PPP.
Sam Hinds, who was prime minister, squatted in that seat, registering one of the most indecent political acts that could have happened in this country. In 2011, Commissioner Vincent Alexander caught operatives in GECOM trying to give an APNU seat to the PPP. In 2015 when the PPP lost the election, the party hounded then-GECOM Chairman Dr. Steve Surujbally out of office, on the unsupported claim that the election was rigged.
Whenever the PPP does not have the upper-hand they cry foul and when they commit dastardly deeds they seek to justify or blame it on someone else. In this 2020 election, outside of seeking to discredit the court that they themselves are utilising, another strategy has been added – the call for sanctions.
Like a rodeo cowboy, this nation must not forget, he who rides this raging bull receives a pension of $3 million a month, round-the-clock armed security personnel, state cars and driver, maid, gardener and an annual vacation where two first class tickets are purchased to a destination of choice. All of this is being paid for by us, the taxpayers. As he rides high the ones on the ground, which are the masses, will still have to sustain his lifestyle even as they are being crushed.
(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this newspaper)
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