I maintain that the Official List of Electors was padded
Stabroek News
November 5, 2001

Dear Editor,

There are times when silence ceases to be golden. It is not possible to remain silent when daily your newspaper that occupies valuable public space, attempts to distort and shape public opinion in a particular direction. That direction, as I have pointed out before, is to promote the interest of those who still believe that Guyana is being governed by the Raj; and that they can lord over us. In the same breath you condemn the rest of society as wanting, as if some virus has infected us all. Such is the case of your editorial of 3.11.2001 captioned "A challenging task".

For a start, I do not share your enthusiasm or point of view and as a participant in the last general elections and someone intimately familiar with all, I say all, that took place, I know that the last elections was subject to irregularities that affected the final outcome. I do not need High Commissioner Glover, The European Union, The Carter Center, The National Democratic Institute or the Swedish based Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance or Stabroek News to pronounce for me. I was there. I participated. I know what went wrong. But for now, yes just now, my colleagues and I are prepared to let events unfold.

I also know that Major General (retired) Joe Singh also knows what went wrong. But sensible man that he is he has moved on; that does not exonerate him in any way and should not.

I also believe that you ought to know what went wrong but for you the expediency of normalcy and the fact that you are the biggest cheerleader of the current presidency would make you stifle your conscience and accept the wrong. It is part of your doctrine of expediency and I suppose self-preservation and survival.

In a nutshell, the last election could not be an accurate reflection of the will of the people of Guyana because the Official List of Electors (OLE) was padded. You ought to recall that that list after being pared down from over 500,000 to about 380,000 miraculously jumped to 440,000 plus in less than a week. The PNC Reform never accepted that list as accurate.

There are a multitude of reasons why we went ahead with the elections but the singularly overriding reason was the well being of the country. Indeed we participated in the elections because the alternative would have been for a completely new registration process, something that the nation would not afford. Additionally, we were held to ransom by many including the donor countries and the likes of public opinion shapers like Stabroek News. That, I can assure you, will never, never happen again.

Today we are vilified by some of our supporters for not insisting then for a new registration as the national outlook every day is gloomier and gloomier. They know and we know that we can do a much better job than the current administration. But as politicians we learn to take our lumps and plough ahead. The race is yet not lost.

What is currently being revealed in Trinidad and Tobago mirrors what happened in Guyana. The system right under the nose of the "hardworking" Commissioner Joe Singh aided and abetted by some pretty sharp computer whizzes manipulated the workings of the information technology department to increase the size of the voters list. It is from this list that multiple voting can occur. When the OLE gets into the field then no one can stop voting irregularities.

It is instructive that the Swedish team did not investigate our concerns about the information technology area.

Indeed as you pointed out Chairman Singh worked hard and may have come with impeccable character. What was needed was not hard work but smart work and that was lacking from day one.

The challenging task, as you put it, is not for the Chairman Dr Steve Surujbally to show that he too is a hard worker. He lobbied for the job and knew what he was getting into. He wanted it badly. There will be no excuses. We expect a certain level of efficiency and competence and we will demand such.

The new Chairman must understand that he is a servant of the people and not someone that will lord over us. He will not be permitted. The British, Americans, Canadians, et al will not be permitted to arrest away our sovereign right. That will never happen again! Any chairman who believes that the petticoats of the diplomatic community will shield skullduggery is mistaken. I sincerely hope that the new chairman is not misguided by this belief.

As far as I am concerned Dr Surujbally is irrelevant in the general scheme of things. The machinery is in place and what is needed is a strong administrator whose only interest is in the nation and not their own personal survival. The die is cast. Dr Surujbally's administrative skills are now on test. No excuses! He wanted the job.

You also stated, "Dr Surujbally has asked the Commissioners to pledge, which they did, to uphold the sanctity, impartiality and independence of the Commission". I hope that he observes the same principles.

Finally, I cannot let you get away from wickedly blaspheming and tarnishing my colleague and friend commissioner Mr Haslyn Parris, when you state, "he effectively gave the results of the national elections his imprimatur". Where is the evidence? This is false and another of your deliberate and systematic approach to manipulate public opinion.

An election is a process and Mr Parris only became a commissioner just prior to nomination day. His only statement was on the basis on what was being fed into the elections commission. How could he have pronounced on what was taking place before he became a commissioner?

As a young politician I know that success in politics is not a destination but a journey. The journey has just begun for many of us and we are convinced that unless the economic management of this country is arrested away from the current presidency we will become a wasteland. We hear it every day. We are patient. But the nation isn't!

Yours faithfully,

Jerome Khan MP

PNC Reform

Editor's note:

Mr Khan has apparently not read or rejects the Report of the Audit and Systems Review of the 2001 Elections Process in Guyana carried out by the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance commissioned by the Guyana Elections Commission.

Evaluating the various problems that had existed and recognising that there had been some errors that report stated:

11.6.5 The tests conducted confirm that the 440,185 voters printed on the OLE and the Addendum would be a more than 99% accurate representation of the registered electorate. It should be noted, however, that internationally there are few countries that do not have a functioning people registration system or where the voters and the political parties have such a long period for claims and objections.

11.6.6 Despite the extra workload and the time consuming decision making, GECOM achieved its objective of producing a voters list that was highly accurate and internationally comparable. ISD and data entry staff at GECOM must be credited for this.

With regard to Mr Khan's statement that "some pretty sharp computer whizzes manipulated the workings of the information technology department... " there was, as the editorial said, a broad based oversight committee in place which included independent experts and personnel selected by the opposition monitoring the work of that department on a regular basis.