The coalition is creating a false narrative to discredit the 2020 election
Histories are narratives that people construct in order to decipher the meaning of past events. The extent to which those narratives closely approximate the past can be problematic because narratives can be entirely fabricated, partially authentic or can withstand scrutiny when documented by historical evidence.
That the PNC has historically rigged national elections to remain in office illegally since 1968 to 1992 is an historical fact that is irrefutable. Ironically, the current accusations, now with PNC executive Aubrey Norton claiming his incumbent party has observed “anomalies to clear fraud and rigging”, is yet another desperate attempt by leaders of the PNC, AFC and the WPA, to change the historical narrative by concocting a fake one to deceive their supporters.
The coalition has embarked on this path for primarily two main reasons. One, it is part of a clumsy attempt to recapture American support in a post-Cold War era, thereby, hoping to stave off impending US-imposed personal, political and economic sanctions. Two, this false narrative is just another transparent, albeit, more elaborate attempt to nullify the March 2 elections in which both major parties had a fair chance of winning.
To date, David Granger, the leader of the APNU+AFC coalition, has not condemned the most glaring actions taken by RO Clairmont Mingo to defraud the Guyanese people by nullifying their votes. The July 16th, 1973 shooting of Jagan Ramessar and Bholanauth Parmanand by members of the Guyana Defence Force is not based on a fictional narrative, but it was a real attempt by citizens to protect their sacred voting rights.
The table below of electoral results from 1961 to 2020 (extracted from a forthcoming book by Dr. Ramesh Gampat) exposes a deep-rooted Guyana tragedy consistent with the false coalition narrative.
First, observers, both local and international, were present at general elections in Guyana and all national elections “won” by the PNC were declared fraudulently rigged.
An excerpt from The New York Times (Sep. 3, 1990) summarized it this way: “Electoral frauds and the scale of fraudulent elections in Guyana have been documented by the annual United States country reports on human rights practices (1980, 1987); the Lord Avebury report (1980); the joint report of the British Parliamentary Human Rights Group; Americas Watch (1985); numerous newspaper articles, and two Granada TV documentaries, ‘Trail of the Vanishing Voters’’ and ‘’The Making of a Prime Minister’’(1969).”
This is the case with the attempted rigging of the 2020 elections. Only once did the PNC win an election fairly. That was in 2015 when it joined forces with the AFC and several smaller political parties in a coalition of convenience to form the APNU+AFC. Had the APNU not thrown the AFC under the bus and had the AFC genuinely championed the cause of the 11% Indians they brought into the coalition, the APNU+AFC could have likely won the 2020 elections with what Rory Fraser and Timothy Laing referred to as “floating voters” (the so-called third force) (SN, May 16 2020). Both scholars have argued that the 2015 and 2020 elections demonstrated a swing from APNU+AFC to PPP/C in ‘mixed polling stations’.
Second, the PPP won all its fair and free national elections with a continuously declining ethnic Indian support base. It is likely that the “floating voters” opted to support the opposition in 2020.
Third, all PPP terms in office were either shorter than or confirmed to the stipulated 5 years duration according to the Constitution, while some PNC terms were longer than the stipulated duration. The massively rigged elections, with a well-oiled PNC machinery in control of the state and its coercive arms, occurred most glaringly when the PNC allocated itself a “win” of over 70% in the elections of 1973, 1980 and 1985.
Not shown in the table is the fact that elections which the PNC lost often saw violence perpetuated against perceived PPP supporters and destruction of private property. Additionally, these figures do not include the 1978 referendum which was designed “to end all referendums” and strengthen the PNC’s paramountcy over state institutions and the government. However, regarding the 1978 referendum, held despite a total boycott by all opposition forces, even though 14 % of the electorate turned out, the PNC declared that 71.45 %t of the electorate voted, claiming a 97.7 % support for the PNC referendum.
During that same year, the Minister of Home Affairs, Vibert Mingo, acting upon instructions from Prime Minister Forbes Burnham, refused to meet with representatives of the opposition forces. The opposition forces were calling for electoral reforms, including a non-involvement of the paramilitary forces in the electoral process, and counting of the votes at the place of poll. Interestingly, while the figure for the referendum was given by the PNC government at 609,522, government figure for the total population in 1975 was 780,000.
This historical evidence lends credence to the Guyanese cliché that “Rigging elections is in the PNC’s DNA”. If Justice Claudette Singh and the PNC-appointed GECOM commissioners sanction a coalition “win” of the 2020 election based on fabricated anomalies (which, incidentally, can be tested at an election petition after the results are declared), the coalition would have successfully moved closer towards coopting the Churchillian truism that “history is written by the victors”. Our hope at preserving our fragile democracy and arresting the slide towards ethnic domination lies with a consistent effort at exposing the fraud, pursuing political sanctions against ruling coalition leaders and encouraging the former “colonizers” to intervene to foster a brokered solution – one consistent with the election results.
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