Gecom and democracy are in crisis

Dear Editor,

According to the tinkered and flawed 1980 constitution, the President can unilaterally select someone to be chairperson of the Guyana Elections Commission under the following circumstances: (i) The Leader of the Opposition fails to submit a list or (ii) the list submitted by the Leader of the Opposition is unacceptable to the President. The constitution is also clear that the Opposition Leader can select former judges or “fit and proper” persons to make up his list.

However, if the Opposition Leader fails to submit a list, then the President can unilaterally select a judge as chairperson, which in my opinion is still a curious framing of words. (As an aside: no wonder that youths are not choosing the technical fields in vast numbers. Why should they? Their constitution disrespects problem-solving, mathematical and technical subjects.) Mr Jagdeo submitted three lists and all were deemed unacceptable by President Granger; hence, the President one-sidedly selected his candidate. Indeed, I felt the Opposition Leader’s first list was clear in its Machiavellian political calculations.

It represents vintage Jagdeo. Given the divisive nature of ethnic politics in Guyana, I think the first list curtailed the choice set of the President, although that list had two wonderful candidates who in my opinion were the clear winners after three lists of candidates.

After the first list, Mr Jagdeo seemed to have subdued somewhat his political calculus and finally uplifted the national interest above his personal ambition.

It was clear from the beginning that President Granger wanted his candidate and his candidate alone.

Therefore, the three lists that include over 15 outstanding Guyanese are not considered “fit and proper.” (As an aside: I hate the term “fit and proper.” Who gets to decide when someone is fit and proper? This is a load of nonsense this constitution has foisted on a people.)

There were clearly about five worthy candidates in the three who could have been chairperson. So, while Mr Jagdeo seemed to have restrained his personal ambition that on several occasions could have ruptured social cohesion, President Granger has heightened his ambition and that of his party, the PNC. He does not seem to care anymore to entertain even idle thoughts about social cohesion and unity. Perhaps unrealized crude oil has clouded the vision of the President and his party.

A dark, thick, gluey shadow has now been placed over the Guyana Elections Commission and the possible 2020 general election. With a history of rigged elections, the PNC has fulfilled the expectation and stereotype of the opposition and its supporters.

As an independent, I have to concede that dark shadow is also affecting my view of Gecom and the likelihood of a free and fair election.

Gecom’s troubles are also compounded by several recent financial indecencies.

This can greatly undermine the ability of its members to act impartially in a most divisive country. This is because the financial irregularities would present substantial leverage to those who are up to old tricks. Guyanese democracy, despite the stress placed on it by that deeply flawed 1980 Constitution and the actions of the political class since 1992, has retrogressed today. Gecom and democracy are in crisis!

Yours faithfully,

Tarron Khemraj

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