MOST young Guyanese who were born after 1992 are now grown up and many have reached the age where they can vote in free and fair elections. They have not experienced the horrors that took place under the PNC dictatorship under Burnham and Hamilton Green. They ruled Guyana as if it was their personal property and anyone who opposed them were deemed enemies of the state. Many were hounded by PNC goons. Many were arrested and threatened. Many were killed.
The Burnham regime kept itself in power by rigging successive elections. The rigging was crude. There was open stuffing of ballot boxes by PNC goons, and ballot boxes and ballots were switched. Some ballot boxes went missing. Horses, donkeys, and dead people all voted in those elections. The PNC counted the votes and declared themselves the winner. The crooked rigging has been well documented.
The young people of today must understand that regardless of their voting preferences, the rights they enjoy today were denied to generations of their fellow Guyanese.
That is why they should understand the country’s history and defend their democratic rights, especially the right to vote.
A signal achievement of the then-opposition PPP and others was counting of the ballots at the place of poll. This was not the case under the PNC. This was a long and difficult struggle and entailed enlisting powerful friends such as the Carter Center. Under tremendous pressure, the then President Desmond Hoyte caved in and agreed to the counting of votes at the place of poll.
Since then, many more safeguards were put into law, thus making it impossible to manipulate votes. The PNC, however, has not given up on its attempt to steal elections. Young people saw for themselves in 2020, to what extent the PNC would go to remain in office by dishonest means.
When it became clear that they lost the 2020 elections, they brought up the issue of dead people voting. The PNC is trying to give the impression to their supporters that somehow the PPP is using the names of the dead to win elections. They have failed to identify a single case of someone voting on behalf of a dead person.
Now that Local Government Elections are coming up, the PNC is pushing for a “clean list.” This “clean list” campaign is one with sinister motives. While claiming that the list is “bloated” by having Guyanese voters who died overseas, their real intention is to remove from the list all Guyanese living overseas. It is a ruse to disenfranchise many.
This sinister move has been exposed by the PPP and many others. GECOM has made efforts to remove those registered persons who died in Guyana and whose deaths have been reported to the authorities. The PNC, as was pointed out on many occasions, cannot present any solution to removing those who died overseas. Their solution is to remove all Guyanese living overseas through a new house-to-house registration, an act that the court ruled would be illegal.
Another question they are avoiding is, given all the safeguards at polling stations on polling day, how is it possible for anyone to vote for a dead person. The High Commissioner of the United Kingdom has acknowledged the robust safeguards in place according to law and the present list is workable. The PNC has not responded. They cannot give answers to these questions because their hidden agendas will be exposed.
The PNC is now trying to get the PPP government to agree on discussions on changing the constitution to remove the rights of Guyanese living overseas to vote. The PPP has already indicated that having fought for democracy for decades, it will never connive with the PNC to disenfranchise Guyanese.
The People’s National Congress has been adept at deliberately creating false realities to achieve political power. That party has used diabolical schemes throughout its history to incite its supporters to violent behaviour, especially after losing elections.
Younger generations born after the Burnham dictatorship had a taste of the PNC’s dirty tactics before, during, and after the 2020 elections. Recall their devious tricks after the no-confidence motion was passed. During the CARICOM-supervised recount they brought up the boogeyman of dead people voting. These were just wild claims. They have now elevated these bogus claims and accusations, as if they have been proven as actually happening.
The PNC, like a drowning man, is clutching at straws. They know that they face a sound beating at the upcoming Local Government Elections. They are trying to bring into disrepute the integrity of those elections.
Recently, in a published letter, once PNC strongman Hamilton Green, cunningly tried to insert another boogeyman when he called for an “examination of the many aliens who are being baptised ‘Guyanese’ and may very well be part of a bloated Voter’s List.”
The people of Guyana will continue to be vigilant against the PNC’s Machiavellian tactics.