WHEN the pens of historians attempt to document and investigate the Guyana elections 2020, it is difficult to see how questions about doubts over what exactly was the will of the Guyanese people expressed on March 2, 2020. In this, they will be compelled to castigate or pour scorn on the long delay which, if prosecuted fairly, will invariably conclude that the will of the people delayed is the will of the people denied. Even if only by public perception, the verdict delivered by the Guyanese people on March 2 has been blurred to the point of being extremely dubious due to five months of cataclysmic political, geopolitical, electioneering and constitutional wrestling. As a consequence, it would be ill-advised and counterproductive to have a candidate become President or a government formed based on this murky series of events.
The mother of all elections has been vastly compromised and for this reason, justice, fairness and stability lie in fresh elections.
JUSTICE, FAIRNESS AND ELECTIONS
There is absolutely no debate over the inseparable connection between justice, fairness and work of key institutions in any given polity. These institutions remain the repositories for the sacred principles mentioned above. In this regard, elections commissions are charged with the responsibility of delivering arguably the most important of these noble ideals in a democracy. That being, free, fair and credible elections which, if executed most transparently and swiftly, teems with the potential to lift a nation to unheralded levels of national confidence and if not, the possibility of chaos is ever-present. As such, public trust, public confidence and above all, public perception of the electoral process, elections bodies, and elections officials are of non-negotiable supreme importance. In discussing electoral integrity, the Global Commission on Elections, Democracy and Security noted: “at its root, electoral integrity is a political problem. It depends on public confidence in electoral and political processes. It is not enough to reform institutions; citizens need to be convinced that changes are real and deserve their confidence. Inclusiveness, transparency and accountability are all fundamental to developing that confidence’. In this regard, the delay of an election result by five-six months in the context of the cauldron of politics in a highly-polarised multi-ethnic society makes it virtually impossible to achieve the kind of public trust and confidence that ought to accompany elections in a fledging democratic society. The series of events and the conduct of the media, political actors, diplomats and members of the Guyana Elections Commission within this regrettable electoral interregnum have completely torpedoed any chance of a candidate and team acceding to office with the most basic confidence of the population. In such a context, in the interest of nation-building should, it is never wise to proceed on a zero-sum game.
Any government or leader who proceeds based on the dubious raw national recount numbers will face a daunting task to exercise tutelage over large swathes of communities across Guyana. Such a circumstance will undoubtedly result in lawful resistance which will make it near impossible to govern with the legitimacy that is required for a country on the cusp of tectonic transformations at the ‘mother of all elections.’
In addition to this, once there is legal resistance, the state apparatus will respond with repressive tactics and therein lays the definite emergence of a repressive state. For this reason and others previously mentioned, the pleadings of Kofi Annan are quite applicable: “Elections are at the heart of democracy. When conducted with integrity, they allow citizens to have a voice in how and by whom they are governed”.
In consideration of all things mentioned thus far, it would be prudent to consider fresh elections after the rule of an interim government whose main purpose would be to pass a new Electoral Reform Bill. This writer is absolutely convinced that the elections enlightenment Guyanese have received over the past months, has provided enough civic education that makes them much the wiser about our electoral system. As a consequence, with a new Electoral Reform Bill and an elections savvy citizenry, it would be difficult for persons to cast doubts over the results without solid evidence. This approach will certainly imbue the necessary public confidence that ought to ensure any government that accedes from the results, can retain airtight legitimacy.
In conclusion, when the March 3 Region Four declarations were completed, a section of the population got their justice by engaging in extra-legal agitations. That justice was delivered in the form of the national recount. After this, the national recount’s unverified numbers sparked a sense of injustice on the part of another section of the population. The only way to ensure justice, fairness and stability is achieved is to either sort the data to produce a credible result, or allow for a non-declaration that will facilitate fresh elections.