Minister of Social Cohesion Hon. Amna Ally Friday rejected People’s Progressive Party (PPP) General Secretary Clement Rohee questioning the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) about the racial composition of the staff of that elections management authority.
Coming one day after GECOM Chairman, Dr. Steve Surujbally rubbished Rohee’s questions about race and the political persuasion of about 50 of the estimated 12,000 polling day staff, Ally called on the PPP to cease its race-baiting tactics.
“As Social Cohesion Minister I want to call on the PPP and its General Secretary to discontinue their efforts to divide the Guyanese community with the ploy of ethnic discrimination,” she said. “I call on you not to instigate racial prejudice. Look for more substantial results but let us work together to make Guyana a better place.”
President David Granger has already warned that laws would be enforced against race baiters. ““We will enforce the existing laws against racism more vigorously and vigilantly guard against bad elements who foment social and racial strife,” he said in his feature address at the opening of the Social Cohesion Round-table in early September, 2015.
The minister assured Rohee that overgnment does not support race based decisions. “We want opportunities for all Guyanese. We expect that those who are qualified for positions are going to be the earners of opportunities.”
Responding to Mr. Rohee’s concern on ethnicity and employment, Minister Ally said that the sooner politicians realize that “we are all Guyanese and not to divide Guyana based on race the sooner Guyana will be taken to a higher level in fostering social cohesion.”
She said, “It is unkind of the PPP’s General Secretary to take GECOM’s business to cheap political propaganda and political gains.”
Against the background of GECOM outlining its merit-based system of hiring persons, the Social Cohesion Minister lambasted the PPP General Secretary for seeking to exploit race. “It is therefore ridiculous that Mr. Rohee will trump us this factor of ethnicity which has the potential to further divide Guyana, which he is well aware of…,” she said.
She added that under this APNU+AFC Government, efforts are being made to promote lasting national unity and love. “We want our Guyanese brothers to see us all as one working in the interest of Nation Building,” she said.
The GECOM Chairman has already said that while he would be concerned about the known political affiliation of GECOM staff, he would prefer to have that information before rather than after an election. Also, he said he would like evidence to substantiate claims of wrongdoing that would have affected the outcomes of elections.
The PPP has filed an elections petition challenging the results of the May 11, 2015 general elections which it narrowly lost; its first outright defeat in 23 years.