The Peoples’ Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) cannot seem to catch a break; it is one battle after the next as forces attempt to jeopardise the integrity of the March 2, 2020 General and Regional Elections.
At least, this is the picture the Party’s leader, Bharrat Jagdeo, painted as he chronicled the developments at the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), at a press conference today at this Church Street, Georgetown, office.
Jagdeo said that the evidence of attempts by the governing coalition to “rig” the elections are “open for people to see – who wants to see”.
He said that the “first attempt” came in the form of the unilateral appointment of the previous GECOM Chairperson, Justice (Retired) James Patterson, by the President. The Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) ruled that Justice Patterson’s appointment was an unconstitutional one. He subsequently submitted his resignation, which led to an intense, weeks-long process to select his replacement, Justice (Retired) Claudette Singh, who was appointed in July of this year.
“With him (Patterson) there, highly unlikely we would have free and fair elections, but that attempt was thwarted,” Jagdeo said.
The other “attempt” Jagdeo listed, was the controversial house-to-house registration process. This process was initiated by Justice Patterson before the CCJ ruled his appointment flawed. Because of this, the PPP/C refused to take part in the exercise. The Chief Justice later ruled that the process was a legal one, however, it cannot result in the removal of names of persons on the National Register of Registrants Database (NRRDB). The process was intended to update the NRRDB. That ruling has been appealed and is before the court.
Jagdeo said that the PPP/C takes credit for the truncation of that process – a process, that the Party believes “was designed to drop people from the [NRRDB] and creating confusion”.
“So again, they made an attempt, and that was fought off,” the Party leader said.
The “third attempt”, Jagdeo said, was the championing by government-nominated commissioners to have the names of persons who did not uplift their National Identification cards from 2008, removed from the Official List of Electors (OLE).
Following complaints by the PPP/C, that decision was modified, to the effect that those who did not uplift their cards will be placed on another list, which will serve as a supplemental of the OLE.
That decision has since been pulled in for review. Nevertheless, Justice Singh confirmed yesterday that those persons will still be required to go through additional scrutiny on elections day. The method for this “flagging” will be determined when the commission meets next Tuesday.
Jagdeo said that the advocacy by the PPP/C prevented the attempt to remove the names of eligible voters on the basis of not possessing a document which is not the sole criteria for voting. If this was allowed, Jagdeo said, it would have been the basis for an election’s petition.
The fourth, Jagdeo said, was the plan to merge the names of persons from the truncated house-to-house process, with the NRRDB.
“So finally, that was changed and fought off. It was changed to new registrants alone. We said that the PPP/C will only accept verified registrants alone to go on that list,” He noted.
The merging of the two datasets would have resulted in duplicates and contamination, and would have further prevented free and fair elections, Jagdeo argued.