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GECOM staff must be able to conduct free and fair elections

Dear Editor,
AN abundance of evidence exists in the public domain, which highlights the massive state of contamination among senior administrative ranks in the secretariat of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM). Personnel who have controlled the nation’s electoral machinery, over time facilitated incremental compromise of the accepted tenets of fairness, transparency, and accountability, resulting in an eventual systemic loss of confidence in GECOM as a whole.

It necessitated the interventions of the international community, together with an almost national uprising to overwhelm the catastrophic thievery they attempted to unravel on our nation. Many of these persons remain rooted in the base of the operational framework of the organisation, although their roots of discord have been woefully exposed. Rationally, therefore, one would conclude that their spores of suffocation remain dispersed in those connected under a controlling influence of key compromised players and justifies the need for an absolute purging.

The connected internal remnants have been hard at work attempting to inveigle a stay of execution for the involved cahoots who are desperately attempting to re-network. The now obvious target points to advancing a delay of local government elections constitutionally due in 2021. Albeit, the existing charges to those justifiably placed before the courts by the police, there is hardly any reasonable consideration why these tyrannical souls should even be considered to still have a presence in GECOM.

It is important and necessary that we must have the local government elections. There would have been massive protests against GECOM had it not been for the unfortunate COVID-19 pandemic. In the circumstance, the widespread condemnation by the general public and the recent call by the PPP’s General Secretary Dr. Bharat Jagdeo for GECOM to sever all relationships with CEO, Keith Lowenfield and his Deputy Roxanne Myers must be strongly supported. Certainly, those on the commission at GECOM cannot now reasonably expect that some pious intervention would cleanse the lewdness or at the wave of a wand, make the organisation acceptable.

We must have local government elections following the legally recognised cycle. Therefore, the PPP/C must be complimented for ensuring the availability of appropriate allocations for the holding of these elections in the 2021 budget. However, the PPP/C government must be fully cognisant of the fact that GECOM held National and Regional Elections in 2015, Local Government Elections in 2016 and 2018, and again National and Regional Elections in 2020. That the limited examination of the financial records by the Auditor General’s Office realised very serious allegations of fraud, while requests for some documents were met with unacceptable resistance from the CEO.

While GECOM as an independent constitutional body enjoys a measure of financial, functional, and operational autonomy, the total loss of trust and credibility along with the unpardonable behaviour of the chief elections officer and several members of the GECOM secretariat justify a more detailed approach. The time is most opportune for a comprehensive forensic audit at GECOM, as well as the necessary steps MUST be taken by the commission to address the compromised election machinery in responding to our citizens’ call.

It is very important that we not forget the dirty roles of Region Four Returning Officer Clairmont Mingo, together with several others involved in the plot. These persons are charged and they are before the courts for misconduct in public office and forgery. All those fraudsters who are still on the GECOM payroll must be sent home and forthwith.

We must also not lose sight of the fact that the Statements of Poll (SoPs) are among the most significant instruments used for validating the results of our elections. In finalising same, the preparation and the signatures on the SoPs must be authenticated by the presiding officers and the poll clerks’ signatures, together with those of representatives for participating political party representatives.

In 2015, there were wielded allegations by CEO Lowenfield of fake SoPs while no real evidence of the same was ever put forward. Given that the PPP’s elections petition was never called, there is now a stronger confirmation that sinister roles acted out by GECOM staff resulted in the cheating of a winning government, ever since the PNC’s plan to derail the elections was hatched and was largely dependent on the use of the “infamous broadsheet.”

The 2020 experience must never again be allowed to succeed, given the level of duress imposed on this nation. It is with immediate effect that GECOM must put on its agenda local government elections and address the shifting out of the high-risk staff. Further, this column advocates for an International Commission of Enquiry to be assigned to examine the wide infiltration of the fallen institution and to provide the relevant recommendations for appropriate remedial action. We need an elections commission that will continuously oversee its constitutional mandate and purpose in a truly professional manner, thereby realising free and fair practices for the deserving citizens of our nation.

Yours sincerely,
Neil Kumar

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