ONE of the ugliest pieces of dishonesty which has been peddled in some sections of the private media has been a resort to the bogey of rigged elections. This came to the fore, with the appointment of Justice James Patterson as Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM). The inference from such statements were quite clear, and unmistakable – that only an Indo-Guyanese chairman will guarantee against any attempt at rigging; but that an African-Guyanese presence, increases such a likelihood.
There are serious contradictions in this perception, sadly influenced by our historical political circumstances, but more so by the deep ethnic fault lines. It is indeed true that the PPP/C had been clearly comfortable with the former chairman, who had administered the GECOM electoral machinery for a reported 18 years. There was never a cause for concern, since the PPP/C continued to win elections; and they did so with a significant presence of Afro-Guyanese support staff.
But suddenly, with the slippage of the PPP/C in the 2011 elections, when although it retained the presidency, it lost control of the legislature – there were claims of rigging. This was obviously the public anguish of a party that could not accept the fact that its dominance of the national electoral poll had been finally broken. Ironically though, it was at this same electoral exercise, that the then chief election officer had been caught deliberately manipulating the poll statistics results that would have given the PPP/C a one-seat majority in the National Assembly, rather than that seat going to the combined opposition parties as it eventually did, based on the natural results.
This, in every respect, was indeed a very serious criminal act committed by the Chief Elections Officer, Gocool Boodhoo. Editor, I am quite certain that this incident would have been known to the then PPP/C; but it never became public until Commissioner Vincent Alexander, who had observed and had the malpractice corrected, made a public disclosure.
For an act that had been so glaring, and serious, the Stabroek News that had resurrected the issue of rigged elections in an opinion piece was deafeningly silent. And so was Ralph Ramkarran, who in his most recent Sunday column mentioned the “…controversy over employment at GECOM.” This was in reference to his prior statements about past rigged elections in the said column. A missive in which Hydar Ally, another PPP/C defender is alluding to the presence of the new GECOM chairman, as the cause of its current problems. What an empty, if not malicious claim without grounds.
Both these PPP/C lights are disgustingly convenient, as they seek to skip, hop, and dance away from the fact that Dr. Steve Surujbally, the then GECOM chairman became the target for much vilification since he upheld his professionalism and integrity of office, by casting his vote to remove Boodhoo. Both Ramkarran and Ally ought to be asked, why their party did not instruct their representative commissioners to support their counterparts in a combined vote to remove Boodhoo. But instead, it took the casting of Surujbally’s vote to effect what was only natural in the circumstances
Editor, we all know what the cabal in Robb Street did to Dr. Surujbally – they literally hounded him out of office. Where was the condemnation from both Ramkarran and Ally, as their party sought to blame the former chairman for all kinds of fictional reasons which caused them to lose an election which results were fair and transparent?
It was the same hypocritical line taken by one of these two columnists on the Justice Review Act – Silence all the years, although it was assented to by the then executive in 2010, but now seeking to speak since it has become the responsibility of the current government. How can one really not be very critical of these frequent public voices, especially the more senior of the two, who although have had to quit his PPP/C party because of his stated disagreement with its pervasive corruption, still seems unsure whether he had done the right thing. Of course, it is his right to support the party of his choice; even if it is the same party from which he had walked away. He is even at liberty to opine on whatever issue he feels needs be, in the interest of that party. However, being inconsistent, by facts of omission, opens him to accusations of being convenient, hence a stranger to the truth. Such hypocrisy does not add anything of value to the national conversation.