Former President, Donald Ramotar yesterday accused President David Granger of having a calculated plan for his sloth in selecting a Chairman for the Guyana Elections Commission, saying that he appeared to be “buying time” to delay the 2020 elections.
“It could be a plot to delay
the expected 2020 elections as the PNC had done from 1990 to 1992. This is in the hope that they will be able to get oil proceeds, from first oil in 2020, and use same to campaign among other things,” Ramotar told Stabroek News in an interview.
“I believe that there is a calculated plot…that he delays electing a Chairman for the Gecom, in the hope of buying time, then calls the election for a later date than should be 2020. Look back at the history, they did it when elections were to be held in 1990 and it seems they are up to the same tricks again.”
Last Friday, the President informed Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo that he had rejected a second list of nominees for the post of Chairman of Gecom, which Jagdeo submitted on May 2.
That list comprised retired judges BS Roy and William Ramlal, attorneys Oneidge Walrond-Allicock, Nadia Sagar and Kashir Khan and businessman Gerry Gouveia. That list was submitted following certain criteria outlined by Granger. The first list was tendered in January, but was
The second list was submitted following certain criteria outlined by Granger after the first list was rejected.
Nominees on the first list were chartered accountant Christopher Ram, governance specialist Lawrence Lachmansingh, business executives Ramesh Dookhoo and Norman McLean, author Ryhaan Shah and historian Professor James Rose.
The President has since invited the Opposition Leader to a meeting, next Monday, for further talks on the appointment of a Chairman.
A statement from the Ministry of the Presidency, said that Jagdeo must now submit a third list of nominees and Granger was quoted as saying that he was prepared to work with him for as long as it takes.
It was the “as long as it takes” excerpt that has Ramotar worried. He said not only did he find the President to be “unreasonable” in refusing both lists but that prefacing his commitment to the process using an uncertain timeframe was demonstrative of someone who plans to delay.
“It is extremely worrying, knowing the history of the PNC now turned APNU, that the Opposition Leader found 12 names of people well respected in society…unacceptable … I wish to point out that these names are not PPP names, they were formed from broad consultation with so many organisations and civil society. Many of the names on the list were sometimes critical of the PPP and no one could accuse them of being supporters of us. Others have stellar records working not here but in the international community,” he said.
“Now for the president to reject those names as unacceptable must raise suspicion …
“The fundamental difference is that PPP is not afraid of an impartial choice. We believe in free and fair elections because we know on a pound for pound analysis system we would win. What is the President afraid of?” Ramotar further questioned.
Ramotar says that he wants his views to be put out now on record so that the public has a reference point to critically analyze all of the President’s actions.
And according to Ramotar, given that the PPP is committed to the constitutional process of submitting nominees for the Gecom Chairman post, it is ruled out that a “loophole” would be given to Granger to unilaterally select a Chairman. As such he said that the “only next move” was for Granger to delay naming a date for the next General and Regional Elections.
He expounded on the issue of democracy stressing that the selection of a person for a key position as Chairman of Gecom needed to be a transparent, democratic one.
“Our interests are only in free and fair elections because free and fair is at the heart of democracy. We are not afraid to lose because we know we won’t this time around. But to stall this selection in the hope that your next best thing, if an impartial and nominated Gecom Chairman is selected, would be oil money, is most unfair and authoritarian at best,” Ramotar said.
“Our country cannot progress in a sustained way, even if we find more oil than Saudi Arabia, if we do not have political democracy in this country. Our history has shown that under rigged elections this country had retrogressed. In the 23 years of free and fair elections and of democratic rule our country has progressed at a rapid pace. We moved from a HIPC (Highly Indebted Poor Country) to a middle income country,” he added.
Questioned on views by critics that his prorogation of parliament in November 2015 to avoid a no-confidence vote in Parliament was also undemocratic and a stalling tactic to prevent loss of office, Ramotar said the two circumstances cannot be compared.
“It is a major difference. That is so vastly different. First of all, elections were not due in my time, it was due in 2016. I prorogued to talk about the issues, to find a way out. Having found out that there was no common ground to talk I decided not to continue the process and I called the election. I was not afraid.
“I could have kept proroguing all the time until 2016 after we could not reach an agreement. I decided not to because what good would that do to the development of our country. I said ‘let the chips fall as they may and I called the elections’. Some people in the very PNC/APNU told me that they believed that was what I would have done. I could not forgive myself for something like that. That is not the PPP, we are not afraid of elections, we never were or will be. Can this government say the same? I won’t wait for their answer. I will await to see the outcome of this charade in selecting a Gecom Chairman and on hearing when is the date for the 2020 scheduled elections,” he added.