Guyana one year later
March 02, 2021
It is said that those who forget the past are condemned to repeating it. That is exactly what happened in Guyana prior to
events that led to the March 02, 2020 elections.
Guyanese in a very short period of time, after a mere three decades had forgotten the struggles of the ‘70s and ‘80s. They had not only forgotten but had become complacent with their recent sordid political history. They had grown comfortable to the changes brought to the nation upon the return to democracy in 1992.
So now, one year later, one year after the March 02, 2020 elections, it would serve all Guyanese well if they try to recall and internalize the events that led up to the elections and the disgraceful events thereafter and up until the swearing in of the President Ali administration on August 02, 2020.
It was a year ago on March 2nd, when I first casted a vote for national and regional elections in Guyana. I had never voted before. Many moons ago, when I had become eligible to do so, I was denied the opportunity to exercise my franchise. I was not alone. On account of the LFS junta and the security apparatus, Guyanese were subjected to PNCite skulduggery and political machinations unparalleled in the annals of the short history of democracy in the region and perhaps the western democratic world.
While covering the March 02, 2020 elections and events leading up
to it, I had the opportunity to witness some very spirited election campaign rallies. There had never been a General and regional elections like that of March 02, 2020. It was different in so many ways.
The previous local government elections had seen greater voter participation and engagement. Those were perhaps some of the many factors that emboldened the electorate to be more vocal and active in the lead up to March 02, 2020.
The nation appeared to be immersed in a sea of red, yellow and green; colours of allegiances, identifying with the two political behemoths, PPP/C and APNU/AFC.
There was however, below the surface, signs of tension; a sense of fear. People were generally apprehensive. Many held a foreboding notion of something sinister at play.
Despite falling to a NCM in December 2018, the Granger led administration resorted to all sorts of legal maneuvers, political machinations and shenanigans to illegally occupy office. Elections were constitutionally due within 90 days upon the successful passage of the NCM.
Emboldened by the whisperings of Nigel Hughes, APNU/AFC pursued through the courts, the thinnest and most flimsy argument of 33 not being a majority of 65. They lost at every step along the way.
When those avenues were exhausted, the APNU/AFC regime in contempt of the CCJ, tossed the ball back into the court of GECOM asking the commission to set a date for national elections. In September of 2019, the Chair of GECOM issued a statement and proposed that elections can be held by the end of February 2020.
The partisan commission and staff of the Secretariat had embarked upon a number of delay strategies. GECOM begun a house to house registration of eligible voters despite having a valid, unexpired registered voters list. That exercise was brought to a halt by the then embattled and now disgraced Chair of GECOM, former Chief Justice, Madam Claudette Singh.
Belatedly, after exhausting all
avenues and with the patience of the ABCE nations wearing thin, David Granger reluctantly issued a proclamation. General and Regional Elections would be held on March 02, 2020.
On that day, I witnessed the discipline and excitement of voters along the Corentyne Coast. I watched as old, young, healthy and infirm voters exercised their franchise and civic responsibility. The process was smooth and flawless. When polls closed at the end of the day and the counts started to trickle in during the night, all still appeared to be well and good with the electoral process. That would soon change.
On the next day, glimpses of skulduggery were becoming apparent.
Despite the results of Region 6 being finalized, the numbers were not announced. This and the delay of results from a few other regions heralded what would soon emerge from Region 4, particularly at the Ashmin’s building.
In the ensuing hours and days, Guyana and the world, benefiting from live streaming, would witness the most blatant rigging, fraud, theft and dishonesty by APNU/AFC and their planted operatives in GECOM.
From the switching of laptops and USB drives to the in-your-face doctoring of data; From Lowenfield’s attempt to coerce the police to confiscate GECOM’s laptop to staff suddenly becoming tired, falling ill or not available; From the faked and panicked heart attack of Mingo to him being whisked away in a wheel chair, wearing a breathing mask and hauled off in an ambulance; From the Chair being locked in and held against her will to the storming of her office; From the fraudulent spreadsheet to the dirty bedsheet, those were just some of the moments that will remain seared in the collective memories of Guyanese.
This kafkaesque rape of the tenets of democracy may now appear to be comical. Much is written and much more will be penned and recorded of the blatant attempts by APNU/AFC and their political operatives within GECOM to steal the March 02, 2020 elections.
Space and time does not allow for a regurgitation of all events. They have all been exposed and laid bare to the glare of the eyes of the world.
The important thing for all civic minded Guyanese is to stand strong and uphold the tenets of democracy, to remember, internalize and remind future generations of these struggles so that we and they may never again forget.