Discretion, if not wisdom, suggests to any public official who mis-cites himself, misrepresents the facts on which he makes false claims, accuses others of amnesia and of stupidity, that at the very least, he should just stay silent, if not apologise. Expressed another way is the rule that when you are in a hole, you stop digging. Mr. Aubrey Norton seems unfamiliar with these common sense principles.
In his letter in the Stabroek News of yesterday’s date, Mr. Norton describes as “the summit of stupidity”, the question by attorney-at-law, Mr. Kamal Ramkarran, on how he, Norton voted on the constitutional amendment to article 161 in 2000. Mr. Norton goes on to lecture Mr. Ramkarran that “you don’t vote in such circumstances—the Speaker merely notes that the ayes have it.” Continue reading Mr Norton voted in favour of the bill on Article 161
The debate on the interpretation of Article 161 (2) of the Constitution has continued, with increased intensity, following the rejection of lists of eighteen persons named by the Leader of the Opposition and the unilateral appointment of Justice James Patterson by President Granger. Unfortunately some writers have made claims that are at best incomplete, or are otherwise unsupported by facts.
Mr. Tacuma Ogunseye, WPA executive member in another section of the print media refers to Dr. Rupert Roopnaraine’s advocacy at the level of the WPA Executive of the “need to revisit the Carter formula” and that Roopnaraine had reminded the Executive “that the Carter Model was never intended to be a permanent arrangement and it had outlived its usefulness.” Former General Secretary of the PNC and member of Parliament and now Government functionary, Mr. Aubrey Norton, seeking to justify the President’s unilateral decision, writes that “Jagdeo and PPP laid basis to move away from Carter Formula and it has come back to haunt them”, a claim challenged by Mr. Kamal Ramkarran in yesterday’s Sunday Stabroek. Perhaps a little bit of history of the Constitution and the Elections Commission will help. Continue reading Mr Norton was wrong about the date of the GECOM proviso
Once again, the role of GECOM in the determination and publication of the results of national and regional elections as well as its general functions have been highlighted. GECOM as it exists today is the product of the efforts to address widespread concerns that elections prior to 1992 were not free and fair. A limited reform process resulted in the 1992 elections being conducted under a seven-person Commission made up of three members named by the Government, three by the Opposition, and the Chairman selected by the President from a list of six names submitted by the Leader of the Opposition is often referred to as the [President] Carter formula.
While politically the formula was considered acceptable since both “sides” of the divide felt represented in the process, it was intended to be a temporary arrangement to be reviewed for subsequent elections. Inertia set in and the formula has remained unchanged for all five elections since 1992. It should not continue.
Continue reading Another GECOM let down
There were credible reports that on Elections Day 2011 Minister of Foreign Affairs Ms. Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett was out campaigning for the PPP/C in the hinterland Amerindian communities. If that was not a violation of the Representation of the People Act it came very close.
It seems that Ms. Rodrigues-Birkett is at it again this year and has brought in the Guyana High Commissioner to Canada Mr. Harry Nawbatt to campaign with her in those communities, exploiting his work as a Contract Employee with SIMAP some years ago. (See Stabroek News May 9, 2015 `Envoy to Canada campaigning for PPP/C in Rupununi’). This is particularly troubling not least because Mr. Nawbatt is an election official for the voting by those Guyanese eligible to vote by virtue of their employment in Canada.
Fortunately there are scores of observers for the elections tomorrow and I am sure that they are taking note of the misuse of state resources by the PPP/C in this campaign. I hope too that GECOM, which has the constitutional and statutory duty to hold elections that are free and fair, is also taking note.
I am confident that the Coalition will win these elections despite the grievous abuses of state resources by the PPP/C, its ministers, high commissioners and other public officials. Among the many tasks the Coalition in Government will face is to mandate GECOM to make recommendations and proposals to prevent such abuses ever taking place again in Guyana. Such reform is long overdue.
Section 67 of the Representation of the People Act provides that the election agent of each group of candidates may appoint one of the candidates as its duly appointed candidate to attend the poll at a polling place. The election agent must do so in writing and deliver it to the returning officer of the district not later than seven days before the election day. Only one person may be so appointed for any one polling place.
The presence of candidates Mr. Donald Ramotar and Dr. Frank Anthony of the PPP/C at Camp Ayanganna on May 2, 2015, reportedly observing the voting of the army personnel, is a violation of the Act. As if that was not bad enough, Mr. Ramotar’s attendance in his Party colours was naked electioneering at a place of polling, which is also forbidden. And then to top it all here, candidate Ramotar is permitted to handle and examine what looks suspiciously like the voters list for that polling place.
GECOM, unreasonably in my view, last week decided to deny citizens the right to vote if they choose to do a conflicting duty to assist the elections process as party agents. Yet is it willing to tolerate and close its eyes to the picture of candidates Ramotar and Anthony violating an express provision of the elections legislation and engaging in politicking at a place of poll. The presiding officer should have excluded at least one, if not both candidates and advised them that they had no lawful business there.
I hope that this will not be repeated come May 11.