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Some are bent on seeking to force others to accept their skewed reality of the 2020 General and Regional Elections. Those who question the credibility of the declared results, given the violations exposed during the Recount Exercise, are being labelled supporters of “rigged elections.” Peddlers of this distortion are no different than Donald Trump who misled his supporters to believe an alternate reality; to believe the truth isn’t the truth because he says so.
There has never been any support from me, in my personal or professional capacity, and the Guyana Trades Union Congress (GTUC) for these elections which I repeat, based on recount evidence, were fraudulent and should not have been declared. I am on record calling for the integrity of the vote to be protected given the role of the Trade Union Movement in laying the foundation in the fight for one man one vote. It is a position I shall continue to advocate once there is life in my body.
Information unearthed from the ballot boxes, in societies where the electoral body takes seriously their job to protect the integrity of the vote, those that failed to meet legal requirements would have been thrown out. There were not only irregularities but also acts inconsistent with the electoral laws. I repeat, for democracy to succeed GECOM cannot fail.
GECOM created a new system (Order 60 of 2020) to ascertain the credibility of the votes after they were declared by the statutory returning officers. The Chair of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) acknowledged, after the recount exercise, the “grave irregularities” unearthed but the agency failed the nation when it used only the tabulated numbers to declare results and ignored the violations of the laws in authenticating the numbers.
The People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) is on record recognising the fraud but argued that these must be addressed at an election petition. In our society elections are determined by laws and on a system of Proportional Representation. The adherence of both is important in determining the integrity of the vote and credibility of the declaration which the GTUC fought for.
Fraud is fraud
Something, as in the 2020 Election, could be considered legal because a declaration was made and a new government sworn in, even though the process was known to be legally tainted.
The PPP/C, whereas it accused the Coalition of fraud, with lobbied local, international, and regional partners was able to subvert an alleged fraud from being declared. They used said partners to bully, threaten and force the Coalition into an unprecedented national recount. The recount revealed massive fraud in their areas but they demanded same to be declared, with the support of their partners, thus effectively sending the then government into election petition. In short, they subverted the fraud they accused the Coalition of and forced the Coalition and society to accept theirs.
Fraud is fraud. There was enough evidence to: 1) allow for a cancellation of the election process before declaration, 2) GECOM fighting to ensure only legal votes were counted or, 3) refusing to declare known tainted results. There was sufficient information for President Granger not to allow those results to be declared when Order 60, that he initiated, commits to a “final credible count” but failed to provide it. Whereas GECOM presides over our election, the President presides over the nation. As Head of State and Head of Government his was the duty to take a firm stand in defence of the Constitution and Laws of Guyana.
Yet in the presence of the stated violations the supporters of the 2020 rigged elections are seeking to taint those desirous of credible elections with their lawless and dirty brush. They claim innocence or victimhood when in fact they are the riggers or supporters of the rigging.
Election Petition 99
I have argued before that to allow fraudulent elections to go through will be giving assent to known acts of wrongdoing that will haunt this nation, escalate conflicts and divisions for years to come. As a citizen who values institutions and the Rule of Law, though I disagree with some of the rulings of the court and GECOM declaration of known tainted results, I respect the decisions. This notwithstanding, I looked forward to the election petitions. Two were filed by the aggrieved parties and last week the High Court threw out one, Petition 99.
Petition 99 was seeking to have the court make legal not political ruling about the integrity of the vote based on what was unearthed and (not)documented. When the High Court threw out the extant petition on the grounds that David Granger did not sign the writ on time and the court did not give permission for an affidavit of late signature to be signed by him, we must question what is happening in the society.
Whereas Granger must be held accountable for this failure, it is not sufficient to use his abrogation of responsibility to discard the petition. The question that needs to be answered is whether a matter this grave-a matter with implications for the conducting of future elections- it is a just decision to throw it out because of the alleged late serving on a minor party (i.e. Granger) when the major party (i.e. GECOM) was served timely.
GECOM is the main respondent in the Petition. It is the party, as per the Constitution of Guyana, responsible for conducting and safeguarding the electoral processes. This makes Petition 99 of significant import to the agency and nation, particularly given the recount discoveries and the implications of these, alleged or proven, to the integrity of the vote consistent with the laws.
Laws are made for society not society made for the law. The spirit that informed fortifying the integrity of our electoral system must inform the court’s decision in deliberating on the Petition. It cannot be otherwise for in a divided nation such as ours we need universal truths and application of the laws. Welding the nation requires nothing less. I am therefore encouraged that an appeal will follow because Guyana cannot proceed with electoral orderliness in the absence of a legal ruling addressing the extant matter.