Kaieteur News – Those who were complicit in or defended the diabolical plot to rig the 2020 elections have no moral authority to speak on the issue of electoral reform. Such reforms are not like the reforms which took place from 1966 onwards and which paved the way for the rigging of the 1968, the 1973, the 1980 and the 1985 elections as well as the Referendum in 1978.
The present reforms are about entrenching free and fair elections and avoiding the sinister plot which was hatched to steal an election and subject the country to political dictatorship and despotic rule.
The masks fell off of a great many persons. They were exposed as political charlatans and electoral bandits. Those who defended them were defending skulduggery and dishonesty. The riggers are the antithesis of democracy and should have no role whatsoever in anything that have to do with democracy.
The Government of Guyana should ignore the protestations of anyone who by their complicity falls into the category of electoral rigging or defenders of such conduct. Those persons and groups are an anathema to democratic governance and morally should have no further role in the politics of Guyana; they should be debarred and disqualified from participating in a process to which they do not subscribe. Free and fair elections are not for electoral riggers and their defenders.
What took place in Guyana between March and August of 2020 must never again be repeated. The assault on democracy was bad enough but even more wicked was the effects on the economy and the health of the country’s citizens who had to ensure a five-month period of political and economic gridlock and all because the losers of the elections were prepared to engage in shenanigans to steal what did not belong to them.
The people of Guyana ought to ensure that there is no repeat of what happened. All the loopholes – including the most obvious one which involved a Returning Officer declaring results at odds with the statements of polls – should be plugged. A more rule-based system has to be employed so as to ensure that such calumny never repeats itself.
The Government of Guyana has committed itself to electoral reform, and rightly so. A strong signal must be sent to would-be riggers that the country’s electoral laws are going to be made impregnable. It is the responsibility of the government to enact legislation geared to reform the country’s electoral laws.
This is a political decision. Governments enact legislation. The role of the National Assembly is to approve or disapprove such legislation. The government does not need to gain the sanction of parliament to launch electoral reform but any such reforms which involve legislation will have to be approved by the National Assembly.
GECOM’s role is to execute the laws of the country. It is not a law-making body; its responsibility is with ensuring the good conduct of the country’s elections, in accordance with the laws. From an administrative point of view, it may wish to suggest possible areas which may be examined as part of electoral reforms from an administrative perspective but it cannot determine what should be done and what should not be done. That is not its role and can never be its role.
Further, GECOM itself may need reforming. For some time, election observers have pointed to the need for the country to move away from the Carter/Price formula, which was instituted in response to a particular situation which had developed in 1992. Electoral reform will take place in Guyana because it is absolutely necessary to protect. GECOM therefore may need to be reconstituted along the lines of electoral bodies in other jurisdictions.
Electoral laws are not likely to be rushed since those tasked with developing the reforms will seek maximum buy-in from all stakeholders. There will be dozens of groups and hundreds of individuals who will want to have a say in the electoral reform.
But this decision of the government is, in many ways putting the cart before the horse. Electoral reform is necessary but it should await the outcome of a Commission of Inquiry into the elections.
The findings of such an inquiry would be extremely useful for the reform process. And it will help to identify those forces which should be disbarred from any participation or involvement in a democratic process. Water and oil don’t mix.
(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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