LAST week, the Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), retired Justice James Patterson issued a statement on the current state of affairs as they relate to its daily functions and its present task of preparing the nation for the hosting of Local Government Elections, slated for November 12, 2018.
Victor Gill Ramirez
It will be the second time in over twenty years that such an exercise is being held on its constitutionally due date. Given the specificity of Chairman Patterson’s style of speech, and his trademark precise manner for very clear, unambiguous and descriptive, his many statements gave a clear understanding of the issues he faces.
Victor Augusto Gill Ramirez
Among the most troubling of statements made were those that referred to the Commission as, “experiencing at every turn designs and machinations to stymie its operations…mischief is afoot, internal as well as external”; and that which referred to the dangerous input of racism, “It is even more sad to see that the default position of our politicians seems to play the race card…It seems to be our politicians have retreated into ethno political camps…” These are indeed very troubling observations that are being concluded about one of the nation’s most critical constitutional offices, in which seminal functions are included in the nation’s most important human right–the exercising of the will of the people
It must be reminded that GECOM’s functions are definably in the national interest, and must be exercised as such. It is, therefore, of a non-partisan nature, meaning that it must be seen to be above board, without any recourse to political affiliation of any type, and ethnic–partiality. There is also a protocol which guides its deliberations at its most senior level, and that full adherence is expected by those participating. It is within this constitutional frame and capacity that it is expected to dispense its obligations to the nation, which is its primary responsibility
There can be no denial that this constitutional function of this critical state institution is not known to all political parties, especially their leaders. Therefore, one expects that the latter will accord this national electoral body its due respect, and not for any of them to attempt in any manner to make it a target of partisan politics, as has been clearly the case, especially since the last national elections, held in 2015
But this has clearly not been the case. For what has been discerned is a well-orchestrated attack on the GECOM, that has begun to impute race as a factor in its organisational structure, with specific reference to its employment practices. It is obvious that this accusation, although clearly disproven, has been continued with the unambiguous design to sow the seeds of distrust within the minds of the country’s constituents, thus leading to a declaration of no-confidence in the ability of the national electoral body to manage voter exercise that is free and fair
How can this be, when there is no just cause, to subvert such an important constitutional exercise that is soon approaching, that of Local Government Elections, scheduled to be held on November 12?
President David Granger has already made it clear that the hosting of Local Government Elections (LGEs) on November 12, 2018, will not be postponed. His statement had come amid court actions by the opposition People’s Progressive Party challenging certain changes made by the Minister of Communities, Ronald Bulkan, to some Local Authority areas. “I promised the nation and I promise you that as long as I am President, LGE will occur whenever they fall due. I will not postpone LGE. I cannot postpone something you are entitled to; it is not a privilege, it is something that is embedded in the constitution–your right to elect leaders of your choice,” President Granger had told a community meeting in Corriverton recently
Under no circumstance must the work of GECOM be impeded, by those whose only objective is to interfere with the advancement of the rights of the people, which allow the latter to choose their own leaders