“Never again!” – PPP tells election riggers
…as Guyana marks 1 year since threat to democracy
Calling out the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) coalition for its attempts to reinvent itself, the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) has made it clear that with the reforms currently being undertaken, riggers will never again be able to hold the country hostage during an election.
President Irfaan Ali taking the Oath of Office before acting Chancellor of Judiciary Justice Yonette Cummings-Edwards
In a statement sent out on Monday to herald the one-year anniversary of the March 2, 2020 General and Regional Elections, the PPP noted that among other things, the Government is engaged in pushing for a professional Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) that cannot be sabotaged by those from within its walls.
“To reinforce our commitment to ensure that our country is never placed in such a position again, the Party reiterates that efforts are being made in the following areas, among others, a Commission of Inquiry (CoI) into what took place during the March 2020 electoral process, which will be staffed by independent professionals from the international community.”
British High Commissioner Greg Quinn, EU Ambassador Fernando Ponz-Canto, US Ambassador Sarah-Ann Lynch, and Canadian High Commissioner Lilian Chatterjee
The party said it is also pushing for the “prosecution of those who committed election offences. A return of professionalism to GECOM, to repair the damaged public trust and confidence in the Commission; and efforts to amend the Representation of the People Act to: ensure transparency; clear methodology on how counting ballots are to proceed – including the publication of all Statements of Polls (SOPs) in the newspapers and the official gazette; and penalties for election fraud, among other issues.”
PM Mia Mottley along with Prime Ministers Roosevelt Skerrit of Dominica; Dr Keith Mitchell of Grenada; Dr Ralph Gonsalves of St Vincent and the Grenadines; Dr Keith Rowley of Trinidad and Tobago. Also in photo is Caricom Secretary General Ambassador, Irwin LaRocque
According to the PPP, Guyanese endured a torrid year of mischief-making from the APNU/AFC coalition, aided by elements still embedded in the Secretariat of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), in undermining the will of the people.
The coalition’s saga of the conspiracy to steal the elections of March 2, 2020, the PPP noted, was undertaken with the clear objective of ensuring that, “by hook or by crook”, power was retained. “However, power for power’s sake sits on quicksand, a lesson the APNU+AFC Coalition ignored and felt that they could ride roughshod over the Constitution, the laws and the people Guyana.”
Sylvester King, Deputy Supervisor of Elections in St Vincent and the Grenadines; Cynthia Barrow-Giles, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Government at the University of the West Indies (UWI); and John Jarvis, Commissioner of the Antigua and Barbuda Electoral Commission
It added that the APNU/AFC coalition failed to recognise that much had changed since the 1980s and they miscalculated the power of the democratic will of the Guyanese people – the broad-based democratic forces and new and young pro-democracy voices, coupled with international and regional support. The dog-whistles sounded by the PNCR-led coalition were ignored.
Expressing its gratitude to the Guyanese people and the international community which took a stand on the side of Guyana’s democracy, the party reminded the APNU/AFC that the people will not forget what they stand for, however much it attempts to reinvent itself as pious, democracy-loving representatives of the people.
One of the containers transporting Statements of Poll
“Simultaneously, work is also ongoing to heal hurts and bridge divisions that were created and exacerbated during the five months leading to August 2, 2020. President Dr Irfaan Ali has launched a One Guyana Commission. The Commission is tasked with taking practical steps to cement Guyana’s one society, encompassing and respecting the diversity from which our “oneness” springs.”
The party said that the Commission will also examine ways to ensure equal opportunities for education, employment and entrepreneurship, and the institutional strengthening of the existing Ethnic Relations Commission to make it more effective.
In the aftermath of the controversial five-month-long elections, a number of high-ranking GECOM officials have been investigated by the Police and charged for misconduct in public office and forgery.
Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo
They include Lowenfield, who on October 12, 2020, was slapped with six charges by the Police relating to forgery and misconduct in public office pertaining to his alleged role in the attempts to rig the March 2, 2020 General and Regional Elections.
The CEO is being accused of attempting to undermine the will of the people by repeatedly refusing to submit the verified results from the National Recount to Chair of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), Retired Justice Claudette Singh, for a final declaration.
The National Recount exercise showed that the PPP/C won the elections with 233,336 votes. But Lowenfield had repeatedly refused to submit his final elections report with those figures, despite being so directed by the GECOM Chair on several occasions. However, he did submit unverified figures that would have given APNU/AFC the win.
A GECOM official carries a ballot box under Police guard
Lowenfield eventually complied, paving the way for the declaration and subsequent swearing-in of the new Government on August 2, 2020 – five months after elections were held. Also before the courts are Region Four Returning Officer Clairmont Mingo and Deputy CEO Roxanne Myers.
Following the elections and its attendant controversies, the Caribbean Community (Caricom) scrutinising team had recommended a political audit into the functioning of GECOM. President Ali has previously said that persons for the CoI could come from Caricom, the Commonwealth or the Organisation of American States (OAS).