It is the GPSU’s view that the elections were seriously compromised

It is the GPSU’s view that the elections were seriously compromised

Dear Editor,

The Guyana Public Service Union (GPSU) takes this opportunity to respond to your newspaper’s inserts into the Union’s press statement carried on Monday July 20, 2020.

The GPSU is a democratic, rules based nonpartisan organization and the decision to observe the elections was approved at all constitutional levels where the members voted unanimously for the Union to be accredited as observers. This decision came about because the Public Servants are government employees and are responsible for keeping the government machinery running. The Union believes that if its general membership is of the opinion that the elections were free, fair and free from fear they will be better disposed to serve the elected Government. Hence the observer team had to report their findings to the Executive Council, that ultimately deliberated on the findings, before the public release expressing the Union’s position. This is a rule requirement in these matters, which took time because our Executive Officers are spread throughout the country. The  circumstances of the Covid-19 environment also seriously curtailed the process.

Secondly, the understanding was that each observer group observe the elections process and at the end of the process report their observations/comments to GECOM. The Union tried to abide by this rule, without emulating other observer groups that were in the media regularly, some issuing veiled instructions to GECOM during the incomplete process. The Union is of the belief that such actions could only have negative effects.

At this point however the Union thinks it is timely for its members to understand the facts and conclusions drawn. The Union’s functions are always professional and at no time does it see the need to “parrot” or “piggyback” on what is said by others. It may at times draw similar conclusions, but its independence is assured.

The Recount Process took 33 days and every day at the tabulation Centre the irregularities were highlighted and televised to the nation and was also featured in the CEO’s report. All the other parties were present when the observation reports were made. The count was also streamed live, nationally. In fact, each party agent signed the observation report for each box as the boxes were examined, so, to say that there were no irregularities is like being the proverbial ostrich – burying your heads in the sand. Putting it bluntly, it is blatant dishonesty. Especially after the Chairperson of GECOM wrote the Chief Immigration Officer and the Registrar General, who confirmed that the names of the persons submitted were either out of the country on the date of the election March 02 2020 or were deceased.

All that the GPSU advanced was already public knowledge. It was thereafter the responsibility of GECOM to determine the  magnitude of the irregularities and how it affected the March 2, 2020 General and Regional Elections. Nonetheless, the GPSU is of the view that based on the absence of major statutory documentation and the fact that there were proven irregularities,  the elections were seriously compromised.

The report of the Caricom team was a disappointment, because any student of statistics would know that where there is an occurrence of  irregularity,  a representative sample ought to be examined before any conclusion is drawn, but if not the weight or effect of the missing documents on the population should be used to determine credibility. The report was however concluded without serious consideration to either of these necessary aspects, except to flippantly trivialize the importance of the missing documentation,  in relation to the outcome. In fact, they ruled on the numerical accuracy and not the content, which majorly affect validity.

Article 162 of the constitution emphasises the main functions of GECOM, among which is to ensure the fairness and transparency of the elections. Hence after any electoral process there should be no dispute as to the validity of the ballots and thereafter its integrity should be sacrosanct. The Recount Exercise definitively exposed a series of irregularities, many of which flowed from the flawed voters’ list of electors  numbering around 650,000. Based on a population approximating 750,000, this is an impossibility.

The Union is of the strong conviction that: (a) the 2020 General and Regional Elections should be rendered null and void and of no effect; (b) that GECOM should produce a sanitized list of electors; (c) GECOM should take punitive action against all defaulting Presiding Officers and Returning Officers; and that a new General and Regional Elections be held as soon as possible. In this way both sides of the divide will be comfortable with the results.

The press should therefore be professional, responsible and impartial when dealing with a matter of such national importance and shy away from sensationalism and cronyism.

A fundamental principle of the GPSU is that whatever position it takes must stand up to scrutiny.

Yours faithfully,

Indira Thakurdin

for the Guyana Public Service Union

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