Nov 08, 2020 Letters
The irony of Joseph Harmon’s hurried congratulatory letter to American President-elect Joe Biden cannot be lost on all with knowledge of Guyana’s recent electoral travails, for it would seem President Trump will be replicating claims and legal manoeuvres made by the Granger/Harmon group. So what exactly is Harmon hoping to achieve given that Biden will certainly have no empathy with riggers and election thieves. America is built on democratic principles and those do not vary on party lines. Fraud is fraud and is viewed as such by the American establishment be it Republican or Democrat.
In his haste to position himself and others who lost their U.S visas because of their attempt to gain elected office by fraudulent methods, Harmon committed a faux pas by saying “The APNU+AFC Coalition also looks forward to briefing you and Vice President-elect Harris”. American Presidents are not ‘briefed’ by foreign politicians, maybe Comrade Harmon has forgotten about his relinquishment of American citizenship.
Harmon also insults the American nation when attempting to curry favour when he says Biden has “the unenviable task of restoring the United States’ status and reputation globally”, for America remains the leading nation in the world and the undisputed economic and democratic superpower; Harmon may want to seek advice before putting pen to paper in such reckless fashion in the future. The nation of Guyana is still reeling from the effect on her reputation caused by the train-wreck known as the APNU+AFC Coalition; who can forget Karen Cummings at the Ashmin’s building? And for those who forgot about Guyana, a recent article in the Washington Post reminds all too graphically “Then-President David E. Granger, on the cusp of losing, baselessly blamed votes by dead people and noncitizens in the March elections” then states that democracy was achieved “After a laborious recount and a feud in the courts, Granger ultimately backed down after a five-month standoff, allowing opposition candidate Irfaan Ali to be sworn in as president in August. That happened in no small part due to U.S. pressure. “The Granger government must respect the results of democratic elections and step aside,” Pompeo said in July as he announced new visa restrictions on “individuals responsible for or complicit in undermining democracy in Guyana”
Given the likelihood of similar claims and legal challenges by the incumbent Trump against President-elect Biden, it is unlikely that Harmon and his ilk can/will find favour within the democratic camp. It would have been more helpful for Harmon if he shared democratic principles with the president-elect instead of only the same first name. Too soon to ask for that visa back Joe… way too soon.
Local government elections should be held but not with the present staff at GECOM
There is a saying “you can’t have cat watching the milk”. The GECOM staff presently in front of the courts cannot be the ones managing local government elections. While the PNC (APNU+AFC) would naturally want their rigging cabal in charge of the preparations and the conduct of Local Government Elections (LGE), the vast majority of the country have no confidence that the management crew in charge at GECOM can conduct free and fair elections. The world watched in total shock as a small group in GECOM, under the control of elements within the PNC, tried stealing the March 2020 elections. Who, therefore, would want these same people to be in charge of another election in Guyana? The Guyanese people would be the stupidest people in the world to want these same people to run the elections machinery again.
It is wholly untenable to hold any election under the present GECOM management structure. Our collective fear, prior to the holding of the March 2020 elections, that the management structure led by Keith Lowenfield was compromised, was realized during the 2020 General and Regional Elections. Not only did the GECOM management exposed their obscene plan to rig the elections, they did so in front of the whole world, including in front of several former Prime Ministers from CARICOM. Their overt attempts were live-streamed for the world to watch in absolute horror. They were brazen and barefaced in their efforts to thief the elections. Now most of the senior management, including both the Chief and Deputy Chief Elections Officers and the senior Returning Officer, have been charged with fraud and are before the courts. These are not ordinary charges. In some countries, these offenses are considered treason. How then could these same officers be in charge of another election?
The Local Government Elections are due in 2021. But for these elections to be held, GECOM must act with haste to change the management. If GECOM will wait for the outcome of the trials before they decide on management changes, then GECOM must ask for the postponement of these elections. The better option is to move forward with a new management team. GECOM has a constitutional duty and should not be sitting around waiting.
While the Vice-President and the General Secretary of the PPP have unequivocally stated the PPP’s preferred position – that the LGE be held on time in 2021 – the Governing PPP and the President have said they will not support LGE being held under the present GECOM management. It is a responsible position. The Opposition, not surprisingly, is insisting the LGE must be held even with the present GECOM management. One can sympathize with the governing PPP, the party which was victimized by the efforts to thief the elections. President Irfaan Ali had to wait five months before he was sworn in because of the attempt to thief the elections. Who can blame the PPP for being wary and suspicious of these same persons who the world watched with amazement as they tried to rig the elections? Who among us are not flummoxed that the Opposition would want the rigging machinery to be in charge of the LGE elections?
One Opposition GECOM Commissioner, Vincent Alexander, asserted that GECOM is not perfect and that GECOM was never perfect, but that did not stop them from conducting elections before. We agree that GECOM is not a perfect organization and that it was never perfect. We agree that elections were held before under a GECOM that we all, on both sides, had reservations about. But when David Granger and APNU+AFC acted arbitrarily in appointing James Patterson as GECOM’s Chair in 2018, they turned an already imperfect institution into a wholly compromised organization. At that moment, GECOM was not just another imperfect organization; it began its transformation into a rigging machinery. When Patterson led the assault in removing the then Deputy Chief Elections Officer and replaced him with a partisan person, he ensured that GECOM’s management had become an arm of a political party. Those of us who cautioned the nation about this lived to painfully see the plan being carried out during the 2020 elections. Thankfully, the Guyanese people with international support defended Guyana’s democracy.
It would be irresponsible and a dereliction of duty for anyone to simply ignore that the main management persons are charged with serious crimes for compromising the 2020 elections and allowing them to lead preparations and conduct of LGE in 2021. But the vast majority of Guyanese want the LGE to be conducted in 2021. The new PPP has vowed to allocate the financial resources GECOM needs for the LGE in 2021. This would only be possible if GECOM acts responsibly and move to change the management structure now. It would be unfair that the LGE is held at a time when most Guyanese have no confidence in the persons who are presently in charge.
The GECOM Chair, Justice Claudette Singh, must act now, convene a meeting of GECOM and begin the reconstitution of the management staff in a way that generates confidence among all stakeholders. The strength of Guyana’s democracy is only as strong or weak as the management staff of GECOM. Keith Lowenfield and Roxanne Myers and the other staff charged with improper conduct during the 2020 elections cannot be the persons to lead the preparation for the LGE in 2021. While the courts deal with them, GECOM must move on with an entirely new arrangement.
Dr. Leslie Ramsammy
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