Suriname’s former President, Desi Bouterse, was sentenced last year to serve 20 years in prison for planning and ordering the execution of 15 political prisoners in 1982. Yet, when he ran for office in his country’s recently concluded elections, he made no attempts at election rigging. In fact, Bouterse peacefully accepted defeat by his main opposition, the Progressive Reform Party (VHP).
Taking this into consideration, Attorney-at-Law and People’s Progressive Party (PPP) member, Sanjeev Datadin opined that it is a crying shame that a convicted criminal is acting with more decency than Guyana’s President, David Granger. “It is indeed regrettable that Granger and the other members of his leadership appear to be morally bankrupt,” the lawyer noted during an exclusive interview.
When one examines everything that has taken place, Datadin asserted that one can find numerous instances where the President and his cohorts have shown utter disrespect for democracy as well as the Constitution. Expounding further, the lawyer said that Granger obeys the Constitution when it suits his agenda and fashions interpretations for his convenience.
Further to this, the lawyer said, “Granger is on record as stating that he would abide by the outcome of the Guyana Elections Commission’s (GECOM) declaration but when it appears that the PPP is in the lead and has won the election as evidenced by the recount, he sets about a plan of intimidation…With the recount showing the PPP is in the lead, all of a sudden Granger and his agents are saying there could be no credible result from the process.”
What is also a point of concern for the PPP member is the fact that the Granger cabal has embarked on a campaign of making unfounded allegations about dead people and migrants voting during the 2020 General and Regional Elections, all with the aim of derailing the recount process. The lawyer said that this without a doubt undermines the democratic process. He also noted that in a country with electoral sensitivities, such statements only serve to be inciting to a section of the electoral base that would feel as though it has been robbed.
Taking the foregoing into consideration, the lawyer said it is important for Guyanese to understand that even though Bouterse has been convicted of murder, he did not engage in such tactics but played by the rules and showed respect for the democractic processes. “…It is a shame that a convicted murderer is appearing to act with more decency and integrity than our president.”
CHANGE OF THE NARRATIVE
Since the passage of the opposition sponsored No-Confidence Motion, Datadin posited that there is now, and has always been, an attempt to change the narrative regarding the defeat of the government. The most recent attempt Datadin cited in this regard was a recent interview that was conducted by Rickford Burke, President of the Brooklyn-based Caribbean Guyana Institute for Democracy (CGID) with Prime Minister, Moses Nagamootoo.
“So he (Nagamootoo) went on some foolish Facebook programme with a pretend journalist and says if GECOM does not declare the elections to be fraudulent there would be civil unrest. Make no mistake that is a veiled threat by the government and its supporters if they don’t get what they want, that if the PPP wins the elections… So it is not only Granger who is operating in a morally reprehensible manner but also Nagamootoo. He too is operating in a manner that is inferior to Bouterse’s morality,” the lawyer asserted.
The PPP member said that at every turn, the government is moving the goalpost whenever it realizes that what is being revealed and exposed is the attempt by them or their agents to rig the elections.
FALSE LIST OF MIGRANTS
Datadin also highlighted another endeavour by the government to derail the recount process. In this regard, he reminded of the letter that was sent to the GECOM Chair, Ms. Claudette Singh by APNU’s Joseph Harmon, to investigate a list of 207 persons who were listed as voted but had migrated. Datadin recalled that Singh subsequently wrote the Commissioner of Police, Leslie James, asking that he cause his Immigration Department to set the record straight on the allegations being made. James subsequently wrote back to Singh, stating that 172 out of the 207 were confirmed to have left the country but did not return.
The lawyer noted that the Commissioner not only broke the law but provided false information to the GECOM Chair as several news agencies such as Kaieteur News, Stabroek News, and the News Room, were able to show that this was not the case. Those news agencies published numerous stories with individuals who came forward to declare that they were present in the country and voted. “So this attempt was proven to be a farce…,” the lawyer stated.
When the foregoing attempt was thwarted, Datadin noted that the APNU+AFC resorted to another ploy. In this regard, he noted that there are 29 ballot boxes for the East Coast area which is the PPP’s stronghold but the government does not want them counted as the boxes do not have the counter foils, and other important GECOM documents. The APNU+AFC Party agents are saying that since those documents are missing, the votes cannot be counted.
Datadin strongly contested this, as he stated GECOM can easily validate the ballots by ensuring all the security features are in place. “…All they have to do is check the security features on the ballot and see that everything is in place and determine the intention of the voter…The law is that if an official of the Guyana Elections Commission who is responsible for administering the elections breaches the law, you can’t invalidate the vote…” The official said it is clear from these and other events which are well documented that the incumbent has no respect for the rule of law or the electoral processes.
When one looks at the Suriname elections which were concluded in a peaceful manner and the results of which have been accepted by Bouterse, Datadin said it no doubt puts Guyana in a most embarrassing position.