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Ringing in the ears of Guyanese are the threats made by People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) General Secretary, Bharrat Jagdeo and Attorney at Law, Glen Hanoman during the election impasse.
Mr. Jagdeo threatened he was compiling names of GECOM and government workers and their families against whom he will take action. Mr. Hanoman threatened two policewomen whose alleged offence was carrying out the instructions of their command authority by refusing to allow persons access to the upper floor of GECOM Command Centre. Caught on tape, standing in front of these women, he turned to then presidential candidate and said, “Dr. Ali, … you must mark these police faces when the government change, they must know their jobs in jeopardy.”
It therefore comes as no surprise that Hanoman is the lawyer representing Charles Ramson Jr. in a case brought against Region Four Returning Officer, Clairmont Mingo, for misconduct in public office. Mingo was accused by the government of rigging the election, though as Returning Officer his was the role to tally and declare the numbers given to him. Making good of Jagdeo’s threat it is no surprise other GECOM workers have been charged or being questioned by the police. Some have been held without respect for the basic right to legal representation.
It appears this is not about seeking legal justice for those who feel aggrieved but to make an example of GECOM workers, further erode trust in GECOM as an institution, and avert attention from an election petition. A petition will allow both the aggrieved and ‘vindicated’ their day in court. The charges are even more suspicious when it is realised the lower East Coast of Demerara, considered a PPP/C stronghold, where more than 40 ballot boxes were found without statutory documents, only ballots, the police have paid no attention!
What of the other presiding officers, deputy presiding officers and returning officers? In every Region/District there were problems that affected the integrity of the vote. The legitimate question is- “Why aren’t these officers charged or questioned by the Police?” Is it a case that those who are going after Mingo, Keith Lowenfield and a few have no desire in hearing from the other GECOM officers who played equally pivotal roles on election day? Or do they think people are stupid or will not notice the inconsistency?
In the meantime, Guyanese are still to hear from the GECOM Chairperson, Justice Claudette Singh. As a former officer of the court and head of GECOM, her silence could be construed as satisfaction with what is taking place, or disinterest in her staff welfare. The electorate expects at least Justice Singh would have already called for her staff’s rights to be respected. Doesn’t she care? It is therefore a welcoming sign to see some commissioners were at the Magistrate’s Court on Monday where Mingo appeared. Their presence demonstrated some caring to what has become a charade.
Mr. Mingo was twice brought before the Court by Reaz Holladar and Mr. Jagdeo, represented by Attorney-at-law Anil Nandlall, on allegations relating to his duty as returning officer. The court never found him guilty. In fact, on June 11, 2020 acting Chief Justice Roxane George- Wiltshire in response to the contempt case filed by Nandlall, which he withdrew before a hearing was held, made known that he, Nandlall, knew he had a thin case and was wasting the court’s time.
The present case against Mingo is before the lower court. Some believe there is no interest in getting to the truth about what happened but that of diverting attention from the massive irregularities unearthed in areas the PPP/C ‘won’ and to embarrass a section of the society. For these persons this is not about legal justice, this is political persecution on steroids. Time will tell.