OVER a week has passed since the March 2, 2020 Regional and General Elections were held. The “mother of all elections” has indeed lived up to the hype and has delivered some remarkable moments, many of which will remain etched in the minds of Guyanese the world over.
Since then, Guyana has witnessed many scenes which continue to leave Guyanese confused and bewildered. The current state of affairs in Guyana right now is analogous to that of a deeply dysfunctional family dynamic where the parents are not getting along, the siblings are out of control and the neighbours look on in shock, horror and derision.
In the hours and days following the close of polls, a campaign seems to have been carefully coordinated in order to attempt to cast reasonable doubt or indeed any sort of doubt upon the fairness and credibility of the Guyana elections process. Citizens were incensed and mobilised to take to the streets in protest of what was being peddled as rigged elections. It seemed as if all the hard work done to get Guyana ready to head to the polls was all for naught. The rest of the week produced scenes from the Guyana Elections Commissions (GECOM) headquarters which can only be described as reminiscent of a poorly directed horror movie.
In the midst of the chaos that followed once GECOM had been compromised by the People’s Progressive Party/ Civic (PPP/C) party operatives, officials and anyone else who was able to gain access, the incumbent A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance For Change (APNU + AFC), Campaign Manager and Director-General of the Ministry of the Presidency, Joseph Harmon, issued a statement on behalf of APNU+AFC. Mr Harmon stated that “The behaviour and conduct of the PPP leaders and their enforcers is totally and wholly unacceptable, and is to be condemned in the strongest possible terms, and I do so unequivocally.” He continued that “I am appalled that PPP leaders would seek to intimidate and bully the GECOM staff that they would storm into offices at GECOM which they are not authorised to enter, that they would abuse staff, attempt to seize GECOM property and handle and seemingly tamper with GECOM records.”
Following the dissent of order at GECOM, local and international observers voiced their concerns over what had transpired. Rumours and theories spread rapidly on social media and the Guyanese public became enraged as many, on both sides, felt as though their democratic right had been circumvented.
Throughout the unrest however, President Granger has displayed excellent leadership in a poised, dignified and graceful manner. The President has been briefing diplomats and members of the international community who all have expressed concern over what transpired at GECOM and the credibility of the elections held on March 2. The President has remained steadfast in reinforcing that GECOM is a constitutional body and as such it is unlawful for the Executive to interfere with the work of the body.
In a statement issued on Monday, President Granger asserted that “I assure the nation that, at all times, I have acted in accordance with the Constitution and Laws of Guyana. After the elections on March 2nd, the nation awaited the declaration of the results by the Elections Commission after completing its work.” The President continued that, “GECOM is an independent constitutional agency over which I and the Executive have no control. I assure you, that as President, I cannot, did not and will not interfere in the work of GECOM.”
President Granger noted in particular that “It is my sworn duty, as President, to uphold the Constitution and keep our citizens safe. I intend to do so. I will not allow political malefactors to hijack our democracy and compromise public order and human safety. Law and order will be maintained. Guyanese, I appeal to you to remain calm and not to engage in any activity which can lead to the heightening of tensions in society. I urge you to go about your business in a peaceful manner. Some damage has already been done to social relations in our communities. We must repair that damage.”
Regardless of the outcome of the March 2, 2020 Regional and General Elections, President David Granger continues to lead Guyana forward with integrity and diplomacy as we await the official Elections declaration from GECOM. President Granger’s conduct has been lawful, mature and exemplifies qualities desirous of a leader. Let us follow his lead as we await the outcome of the “mother of all elections.”