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OPINION: GECOM Chairperson – A start has been made, let’s go from here

By GHK Lall

After the tumultuous and troubling, a much-needed first step has been achieved and is now official: There is a chairperson. I suppose that many of us will have to get used to addressing the new leader of GECOM by this gender neutral title, in view of this unprecedented development of a woman as chair. As I congratulate and welcome the new chair and wish her the very best in this most grueling and watched job in Guyana, a few final thoughts come as I close out my interest in this position and all the alarms that came with getting to this point.

First, I am writing this without even looking at the official announcement of retired Justice Claudette Singh’s appointment. I don’t need to go there to analyze for meanings and signals and hidden interpretations on her sudden and surprising arrival at GECOM. It was for me. But we certainly do things the hard way in this country; nothing is ever easy. I do hope that there was some learning by both sides from what had to be a tortured and draining process; perhaps some maturity and wisdom. Now all Guyanese will resort to what they do best: figure out the how and why, and dissect all the nuances in between. That is none of my business; I am content that there is a chair, and have already moved past that once red stoplight. That is history.

Second, without reading anything, I am inclined to believe that there was some, shall I say, Adam Smith hand involved in getting past that thorny, intractable flash-point. I am glad, and not interested in who was that influencer; the result is all that matters. But there did have to be some compromising by both sides; a political quid pro quo had to be worked out to get from no sharing, no meeting, no talking to this bolt from the blue of a done deal in a single afternoon. This is said with regard to movements behind the scenes. Still, the real world of political Guyana just does not work like that, at any level. And certainly not for GECOM chair.

Third, having dangled that over the table, I think that there will be some indication in the comments and postures of both sides going forward. The proof will be in the pudding where all interests and roads and priorities now congregate (not collide, hopefully): that would be the almost just as (if not even more) confrontational matter involving lists. The contention is going to be: my list or yours; with the latter still in the developing. The way I see it is that there is going to have to be some give on the lists. Keen listening as what follows in the aftermath of this chair settlement will set the stage for going forward. I expect to see some adjustments; part of the give and take. As an aside, I share that the house to house registration people from GECOM just paid a visit to the homestead and the honors were duly completed. After processing, and all things being equal, I should be voting for the second time.

Fourth, now that a chair is in place, I am not particularly concerned about a date for elections being identified, as I think that that will hinge on what is finalized about the existing list and the just commenced registration process. I don’t understand how what I am thinking might be practical, but I foresee that some sort of meeting of the minds is going to have to occur here. Again.

Fifth, and finally, the work of the chair now boils down to two major decisions. Consult, decide and roll out the process for the list of eligible voters, which is the first order of business. And then, after the actual voting is closed, then Guyana starts over again from where it has just been. What I mean by that is that the result of the count is the final responsibility of the new chair. Good luck. I think she needs more than luck. I suggest prayers and appeals to the force(s) above for guidance. For strength. For courage.

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