2020 POLLS – PLOTTERS AND PLAYERS

AS I was expecting an easy win for the Coalition at the March 2, 2020 elections, I wrote in this column that the APNU+AFC was heading for the “Triple Crown.” I had least expected an opposition plot to rig the polls, glaring evidence of which has not only surfaced at the recount of the ballots cast, but could taint the credibility of the elections on the ground of fraud.

Among the claims of fraud are (i) ballots cast for the dead and persons who have migrated; (ii) persons voting without proper identification; (iii) persons voting outside of their districts without employment documents; (iv) large numbers of improperly stamped ballots at locations where disciplined services members voted; (v) missing poll books; (vi) documents from one polling station being found in the ballot boxes of another, etc..

These particulars of fraud are sufficient to materially alter the credible outcome of polling, and to render the 2020 elections as being free but not fair.
The 2020 fiasco was long in planning. Most of the domestic plotters and players are well known. Still emerging is the full profile of the hidden foreign hands with strategic political connections. Their interference in the internal affairs of a small but sovereign state will be eventually exposed.

CAN’T BREATHE
That interference was intended to suck the oxygen of democracy from Guyana, and also to stifle the free will of other peoples in the Caribbean. It has, or eventually will have, much the same effect on our Caribbean peoples as those in the United States of America who righteously feel, in the tragic re-enactment of the unjust fate of their martyr George Floyd, that they “can’t breathe.”

I write with outrage today, my lungs saturated in my own tears, over what was described as the savage lynching of another African-American literally choked by the neck until dead! Our fate in the Caribbean when foreign masters jackbooted in our lands, has been no different, and will be no different should they return this time around, by invitation.

The defeat of the PPP at the 2015 poll was a major setback for the corrupt and criminal enterprise that had thrived over many years on unjust enrichment. Initially, the PPP blamed its defeat on “elections-rigging,” and falsely conjured the image of the Granger presidency as being synonymous with elections-rigging. That drum was beaten by the PPP’s racist, right-wing falange even as the Coalition delivered in 2016 and, again, in 2018, free and fair local government elections that were denied for some 20 years previously.

FOREIGN CITIZENSHIP
During November 2018, the PPP tabled a no-confidence motion against the Coalition at a time when the President was ill and was receiving medical attention overseas. The PPP succeeded in its enlistment of a Coalition MP with foreign citizenship to support the motion which he did, as he boasted, out of ethno-religious/racist convictions.

The legitimacy of the no-confidence vote was canvassed before all the layers of the Guyana judicial system during which process the Coalition had a diminished image as a caretaker government. In the intervening period there was a protracted search for a “fit and proper” person to become Chairman of the Elections Commission. The PPP suggested names of persons who could not be appointed, but who would enlist later in the so-called united opposition to the Coalition.

It must have been evident that the PPP, not hopeful of a victory at the polls, was doing everything to frustrate compilation of a credible voters list that was based on new house-to-house registration. It resorted to court challenges, one after the other, resulting in the register not being cleansed of the names of all persons who have died or who have migrated. The final list of electors was bloated, and had some 660,000 names in a population of 750,000. That was a recipe for rigging, which the PPP exploited as the evidence is now showing.

SCRIPT FOR RIGGING
The actual script for the rigging was a composite of what happened in the Guyana 1964 elections and more recent regime-change formats, such as that used in Bolivia. Several new parties surfaced, some with foreign citizens as leaders. These were not to gather votes but to add to opposition voices to isolate the government.

Some old reactionary operatives who had worked with foreign plotters in the 60s and in the70s were dusted off, and thrown into the choir. So too were a couple of disgruntled ex-army and police officers. Of course, to give the plan ideological image, PPP loyalists in the private sector were allowed to jump on the bandwagon.

The plotters and players seemed to have had the show on the road. They reported that everything went smoothly on E-Day. However, they miscalculated as declaration of the final results was marred by a toxic combination of opposition-led interruption of the vote-tabulation process and by street violence. Then, at the opposition’s behest, an Order was made by the Constitutional Court for a recount of the ballots cast on March 2.

The recount is being managed by the elections commission which is the sole agency that is authorised under the Constitution to conduct elections in Guyana. It had set itself an initial time frame of 25 days to complete the recount process. However, this time frame has now been extended and final results of the elections ought to be declared on or by June 16.

DEMOCRACY WORKS…

It is said that democracy works slowly but surely, as we have seen in Israel where, after three elections within a single year, no party has emerged as the winner. Instead, the two major political parties have agreed to form a coalition government.

I cannot say if in Guyana this could be the preferred outcome. But it is still my undying hope that the 2020 experience should send a clear message that neither foreign intervention nor ethnic contest for domination would be in Guyana’s national interest. Knowing what we are, and who we are, we need governance in Guyana and in the Caribbean that should make us all breathe.

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