Last Updated on Sunday, 6 September 2020, 17:49 by Denis Chabrol
Opposition Leader Joseph Harmon says his A Partnership for National Unity+Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) is interested in sitting on all State boards, even as Minister of Governance Gail Teixeira justified so far picking representatives from small parties on the grounds that they fought against electoral fraud.
“Where the law requires Opposition representatives to sit on Boards, the Government is required to comply. Where the law does not specify Opposition participation, the Government is obliged to include the Opposition in the interest of transparency and accountability and because
the law is a law of the State and not of the Government,” Mr. Harmon said in a statement.
Executive Director of the Office of the Leader of the Opposition, Aubrey Norton told News-Talk Radio Guyana 103.1 FM/ Demerara Waves Online News that “the government has not” invited APNU+AFC to nominate representatives on State Boards.
APNU+AFC continues to maintain that Ms. Teixeira’s People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPPC) conspired with local and international players to perpetrate massive electoral fraud to oust the coalition from power. On the other hand, the PPPC has been counter-charging that the several Region Four declarations with different bloated figures is concrete evidence of a glaring attempt by the coalition to steal the March 2, 2020 elections when the Statements of Poll are compared to the national vote recount.
Representatives of the United Republican Party (URP), The Citizenship Initiative and A New and United Guyana (ANUG) as well as the PPPC have been picked to sit the Gaming Authority, Guyana Oil Company and the National Communications Network (NCN). She said so far only five of more than 100 State boards have been appointed , before the appointment of an Opposition Leader on September 1, 2020. “I wouldn’t judge too quickly on the issue,” the Minister said, suggesting that the 2020 National Budget debate might provide some room for APNU+AFC representatives to sit on State Boards. The URP,TCI, ANUG and The New Movement had participated in the recount and had joined in local and international calls for the national recount figures of a total of 460,352 valid votes to be used to declare the election results.
The Minister said the PPPC administration was not opposed to engaging APNU+AFC but that the Irfan Ali-led government was in transition and wanted to firmly ground itself in office to combat the coronavirus, COVID-19, reopen the flagging economy and reverse the social and political situation between now and December, 2020. “We will be putting structures in place at different levels to ensure that the government is able to function and function effectively; that’s our number one priority regardless of who they voted for,” she said.
Asked why no APNU+AFC representative was selected to sit on those boards in keeping with the campaign promise of inclusive governance, the Minister of Governance indicated that those small parties had sounded their voices for the protection of democracy. “We made a promise to be inclusive to include civil society and the non-governmental political parties and if you look at the five boards- those that were appointed- they do include members of the opposition. It may not at this point, at this stage include the APNU+AFC but it includes opposition parties who participated in the election, who also participated in the struggle to prevent the election from being stolen and they have also, as a group of parties, garnered over 8,000 votes so they are not to be miniaturised or ignored,” she said.
Teixeira sought to address concerns that APNU+AFC, which won 217,920 votes, was being left out from decision-making on State Boards. She said “this is not a one-way street” as the opposition has charged that the coalition is illegitimate and the elections petition calls for fresh general and regional elections in 90 days which would mean that the government’s term in office would be cut short.
But the Opposition Leader slammed the Minister of Governance for seemingly failing to recognise the difference between the State and the government. For his part, he explained that the State of Guyana is a legal entity that exists forever while governments enter and leave office. “A government can be illegal and illegitimate as is the one she is a part of. Ms. Teixeira is attempting a vulgar and indecent whitewashing of the actions of her illegitimate and fraudulent PPP government,” said Mr. Harmon in a prepared statement.
Ms. Teixeira recalled that the PPP had not participated on most State boards while APNU+AFC had been in power because the names had not been published in the Official Gazette but merely a reference to opposition representative.
The coalition as well as a report by the Chief Elections Officer Keith Lowenfield have cited voter impersonations, inability to reconcile votes in boxes due to the absence of documents and other anomalies as the basis for saying that the PPP cheated its way into power. The APNU+AFC has repeatedly resisted calls to publicise its Statements of Poll that had been signed by representatives of small political parties.