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OPINION: New GECOM list: an Ocean’s Eleven of the mostly unfavorable

by GHK Lall

I was hoping for a serious list, not necessarily an entirely new list, but one that offered names holding out some hope that the electoral challenges at hand were viewed through a wider lens. I suppose that, now it is on the record, the best will have to be done with it. And if this is the best that came out of the recent government-opposition consultation, then pessimism has to rule. I share what I think of this list of names.

There are couple of decent folks in the mix. Literally. From that eleven, there is only one or two of any authentic caliber; and in whom I would place some degree of trust. Trust is the key word demanded, and which has to emerge from what has to be the dirtiest, most thankless, most unforgiving job in the world. Yes, I have extended beyond Guyana; for the job of chair of Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) has no positives attached, other than to serve honestly one’s country through singular dedication and invincibility of character and spirit. It begins and ends with trust.

Trust to deliver something clean; to stand strong when the passions rage; to have the personal constitution to resist overtures, pressures, threats, and own impulses. If anybody in this society thinks I am too harsh, I ask this simple question: which citizen in his right mind would ask some of them to collect his or her monthly pension pittance at the Post Office? Or to help with getting a flat tire inflated? I have only been here a few years, and yet there is so much to absorb about some of those resubmitted names that are only of money and countless skulduggery. Those who have lived here longer are in a position to offer insider knowledge. Who would want some of them near the most troubled undertaking in Guyana?

Meaning further that, in the best, (the least tempting and rewarding) of circumstances they cannot be trusted to deliver anything clean, or aboveboard, or remotely resembling the unquestionable. These are the kind of folks who would hold a bush cook and extend a cheerful invitation. Of course, the innocents really do not know until it is too late that the fowl being eaten is theirs. That is how good at the dark arts some of these nominees are and how they polished their image and craft.

And none should forget the escapades of that bunch.

On the other hand, the couple who are not unclean suffer from one malady or the other: unempowered, unsure, unsteady, unprepared, and likely unable to stand up and deliver without fear, with rare courage, and with absolute disregard for the ill-will of leaders and supporters. Again, the litmus test: in the crunch and crucible of national elections, when the passions rage on the phone, in the media, in the villages and towns and streets, and all over, is any from this cupped palmful, the one desired to be leading the charge from the foxhole of tribulation into the withering fire from all angles? I say no.

Still, there is one name that I would take a chance with from the mix. I have some doubts about fierceness and strength, not character or partisanship. Still further, I am surprised that she allowed her name to remain in this the greatest of Guyanese games; a medal for heroism should be considered right now without a single decision made as yet, or any vote counted.

How much better to sit down, and both men (two of them only) remove a single list of about six new names each from their own pockets, and pare down until down to two or three. And from there, leave to the president. Of course, it is easier to come up with six icebergs in this country than to come up with a short list of 2-3 names, who can be trusted to serve the nation’s interests. Not any party, but that of the nation. However, the real politick of Guyana knows of no such standard or value or trust (that again) that could help over the threshold of suspicion and fear (and what that promises). And that is why I see the starting point of selecting a chair is in the same place as it was a hundred years ago.

Mr. GHK Lall is a Guyanese author, columnist and former financial analyst on Wall Street.