September 28, 2016

No room for rigging – Dr Surujbally

GECOM Chairman,  Dr Steve Surujbally

GECOM Chairman,
Dr Steve Surujbally

LGE 2016

Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) Dr Steve Surujbally has strongly represented that it is “highly impossible” for any party, group or organisation to rig this year’s long-awaited Local Governmental Elections (LGE).

Surujbally was addressing a small gathering of candidates, voters and members of the diplomatic corps last Friday at the launching of the Guyana National Youth Council’s (GNYC) “Vote like a boss” campaign at the Hermandston Lodge.

“We have placed measures and systems in place to make elections “unriggable.” This is not in the days of yore. This is now. And I say to you, it is almost impossible to rig an election,” Surujbally told the gathering.

“For you to rig an election, it would have to be a great and grand conspiracy. Everybody would have to be participating. Just look at a polling station, there is the presiding officer, the deputy presiding officer, clerks, party agents… we’re talking about 80 people at least, are they all involved in the skulduggery? I don’t think so… it is highly impossible,” he continued.

The chairman said the Commission has systems in place for everything.

“We have manuals for everything. With that sort of background and content, we can go to International Organisation of Standardisation (ISO)’s certification as one of the Electoral Management bodies in this hemisphere and the Caribbean that is well run. Irrespective of what you might be hearing,” Surujbally said.

The Chairman has made the promise at a time when his credibility is under dispute by the opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP). Following its defeat at the last National and Regional elections back in May 2015, the party immediately mounted an elections petition in the High Court, calling for a recount of the votes, which the party said was highly flawed, and it believed that Dr Surujbally was part of a conspiracy with the successful A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) coalition to rig the elections.

The party has also since called for his resignation, a move Surujbally said he will make in his own time. He has also denied the allegation.

On the other hand, the GECOM Chairman on more than one occasion derided the statements made by the Parliamentary Opposition, maintaining that he will not be going anywhere on the demand of the PPP/C.

Meanwhile, with the LGE fast approaching, the PPP/C is still concerned about the competence, ability and creditability of GECOM to deliver free and fair elections.

Acting Chief Justice Ian Chang recently gave the green-light to the elections petition brought by the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C), allowing the matter to go to trial – a ruling described by a lawyer as “wrong and flawed.”

GECOM’s Chief Elections Officer Keith Lowenfield had moved to the Court to block the summons filed by the PPP/C.

Justice Chang ruled that there were sufficient grounds for the matter to go ahead, and in accordance with Article 163 of the Constitution, the court does not have jurisdiction to quash the petition.

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