Free and fair elections must be free and fair
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Dear Editor,
PLEASE permit me the space to emphasise that the meaning of free and fair elections must be crystal clear and unconditional in a democratic society. The Guyana Constitution is grounded in this framework. The indifference to this establishment, therefore, has undermined the acceptable, revered principles on which our nation is built and with whom we share relationships.
Following the successful December 2018, no-confidence motion, the PNC along with operatives at the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) did everything to avoid going to the polls. It was indeed a herculean task to get the APNU+AFC Government to dissolve the Parliament and announce the elections date. After the elections on March 02, 2020, the nation had to endure five months of frustrations as the PNC and the GECOM riggers tried desperately to avoid the inevitable, in an obvious move to stifle the democratic right of our nation, realising a situation of total international rejection.

Without a doubt, the recent troubling attacks on democracy at home and in several places around the world dictate the need for strengthening policies and actions to deter all undesirable threats. We watched in awe at the eruption of some of the most atrocious and abominable challenges to democratic electoral principles, which recently took place in the United States of America. The strongest condemnation is warranted from the outlook of things, and it is therefore welcome to witness the strong words of principle emanating from our Attorney General, given Guyana’s experience at home.
As a global leader after which many countries have patterned their political standards and foundation, one must be flabbergasted to observe domestic terrorism of this nature. An attempted ‘coup” in America has not occurred in over 200 years and there is some measure of certainty that the swiftest and condign actions will be taken against those involved to ensure that it never happens again. Observably, the American internal verification system stands strongly against the insurgent behaviour, unlike the drawn-out, attenuated Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), which must now face an almost total overhaul.

Against the backdrop of decades of underhand business by officials involved at GECOM, this time, it took among others the sacrifice of many freedom fighters willing to face injury and death in their watchful protection of the nations’ cast ballots. Those in control at the GECOM Secretariat level, openly showed that they had no problems throwing away the decency and transparency which ought to have been the central pillar of the constitutional institution.
Rather, they openly displayed a status quo which ensured that Guyana maintained the terrible undesirable stigma of ‘Rigged Elections,’ which the Guyanese people are fully aware is the hallmark of PNC architecture and planning. We can no longer go forward in this setting of pretence and trumped-up false security.
In 2015, mysteriously, a fake spreadsheet instead of following the legally instructive method of using the Statements of Poll was introduced in the verification process. Possibly, an unsuspecting PPP/C was caught napping and in search of recounts that were denied by the sudden unavailability of GECOM staff. Worst of all is the fact that the Chief Executive Officer of the GECOM Secretariat, Mr. Keith Lowenfield then told the commission that there were ‘Fake Statements of Poll’ and he would not be able to declare the elections results.

Also of note, the former Chairman of GECOM Dr. Steve Surujbally said that the ‘Fake Statements of polls were not used’ in the tabulation of the marginal victory handed to the PNC-led APNU+AFC contesting party. The obvious question is where did those fake Statements of Poll originate from?
There was no declaration from GECOM regarding the divisions affected by these fake Statements of Poll and the CEO did not think that it was relevant for voters to want to know if and why their votes were not counted? The introduction of the spreadsheet instead of the Statements of Poll caused a big furore, following which Returning Officer Melanie Marshall halted the counting process with the promise that she will continue shortly after persistent objections.
The continuation of the verification process never saw the light of day as GECOM suddenly declared that there were enough votes in favour of the opposition to announce a result. This of course could never be considered Free nor Fair with the possibility of the election petition turning out to be one of non-materialistic value. It never saw the light of day.

Guyanese are now asking if they were ever any fake Statements of Poll and these matters must be cleared. The officials at GECOM are shrouded in overwhelming uncertainty, which does not augur well for the administration of processes representing the nation. What we have is a conundrum whereby persons in the GECOM system have been allowed to circumvent their expected responsibilities and then were allowed space and latitude to clean up the evidence against their dirty work.
The foregoing is neither acceptable nor fair and the commission needs to take the strongest action in eradicating the filth. Citizens are of the view that the PNC is fully aware of the fact that they can never win free and fair elections in Guyana and they were hell-bent on derailing all elections. There must be no further accommodation of the tainted measures and myopic lens from the PNC to visualise these important matters. We demand the implementation of systems now that will realise Free, Fair, and Acceptable Elections Results.

Yours sincerely,
Neil Kumar

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