Reiterating the PPP/C’s concerns that the APNU+AFC government plans to rig the 2020 general elections, Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo yesterday said his party would do everything in its power to thwart any such attempts.
“…There will be an attempt, given the nature of the PNC, an attempt to try to tamper with the elections but they are not going to find us sitting down. So, if [State minister Joseph] Harmon and the others think that we are going to be walk-over, etcetera, he better disabuse his mind from that notion,” Jagdeo told a news conference yesterday.
He made the declaration in response to comments made by government-nominated Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) commissioner Vincent Alexander and Harmon in the state-owned newspaper while addressing the controversy surrounding the decision by GECOM’s Chairman, Justice (ret’d) James Patterson, to use his casting vote to appoint Roxanne Myers to the post of Deputy Chief Elections Officer (DCEO) over previous office holder Vishnu Persaud.
“One thing is clear… we expected this [attempt]. We have lived with this for a very long time but they are not going to deter us from fighting aggressively for free and fair elections… they are not going to break our spirit with these appointments… and there will be consequences. If they think that they can rig the elections and have the kind of peace that we have now they are wrong; very, very wrong. I hope they are not thinking that in their calculation,” he charged.
“I’m making it clear about that and it’s not coded language because then the nature of the struggle will be different. We will be struggling against an illegal, illegitimate government that is not in power through the ballot and it will be a different form of struggle, totally different. So, Harmon can talk as much as he wants. We will pursue what is right,” he said.
Jagdeo dismissed comments by Harmon asserting that the PPP has been seeking to discredit GECOM because it lost the last elections.
Jagdeo took aim at Harmon, saying that as the elections draw near, the minister has suddenly gotten the urge to engage youths.
Jagdeo stressed that GECOM is supposed to be an impartial body. “I think they are desperate,” he said, before adding that the present is not like in the 1970s and 1980s, when elections were rigged with impunity and when the state controlled the entire media.
“We have an open society. Dictatorship cannot strive in open societies …,” he said, before adding that despite the PPP/C’s concerns, it is treating the government as “legal now and legitimate.”
In October last year, Jagdeo had said that Patterson’s appointment was an indication of government’s plan to rig the 2020 general elections.
“It is clear to me that they are planning to rig the elections. It’s as clear as day to me… and we are not going to disappear because that is their intention…We will fight that intent to rig with even more vigour and we will do all that we have to do to block it,” he had said during a press conference.
Jagdeo had announced then that the party would alert the diaspora and the international community about “the threat” to the country’s democracy.
He had said that there would be a heightening of awareness about government’s suspected plan and that the PPP/C was putting together a group that will look at all the ways that government can rig the elections and “start blocking them. We have already been doing some of this work in the PPP but now given this salvo that has been fired by Granger at our democracy …it brings heightened awareness to all that we are doing.”