Hamilton Green’s elections rigging remark hinged on “if”

Last Updated on Thursday, 22 February 2024, 23:30 by Denis Chabrol

PNCR Leader Aubrey Norton

Leader of the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR), Aubrey Norton on Thursday said veteran Guyanese politician Hamilton Green’s recent remark about election rigging was taken out of context, but Attorney General Anil Nandlall said the former Prime Minister’s remarks

Mr Norton said “if” was omitted in quoting Mr Green. “When it was carried by the press, they would have left out ‘if’ and so they changed the context.”

Mr Norton’s account is not true. In the article published Tuesday, February 20, 2024, Mr Green was quoted as saying that “If, as I told one of the groups that I met this (last Friday) morning they say he rigged elections, I say we should keep rigging to save us from these devils, these bastards, these demons that we have.”

Mr Norton sought to interpret what Mr Green meant in his remark. “I think what Green was saying ‘you are saying we’re rigging, then we should rig to change the government’.” Insisting that the context was changed, the PNCR Leader said Mr Green is the longest existing politician in this country. “Hamilton Green has ability to choose the language and he has shown over the years that his choice of language has been exceptional and, therefore, I do not believe that Hamilton Green will make some wild statement,” he said.

The former PNCR General Secretary and former Prime Minister made the remark at last Friday’s Burnham Foundation-organised lecture to mark the 101st birth anniversary of the late founder-leader of the PNCR.

Mr Hamilton Green

PNCR Executive Committee member, Ganesh Mahipaul echoed his party leader’s position on the grounds of the entirety of Mr Green’s remarks. Restating that the 2020 national vote recount showed that people voted in the names of dead persons and others who were overseas on polling day, and there were unsigned oaths of identity, abnormalities and irregularities. “The PPP is squatting in office on votes that are not authentic,” he said.

Mr Mahipaul said the PNCR “has always embraced free and fair electi0ns and elections free from fear”, and so his party has been calling for a clean voters list. “Election rigging and election manipulation has always been a trait of the People’s Progressive Party,” he added.

For decades, the PNCR had been accused of rigging elections to remain in office until 1992 when its then leader and President, Desmond Hoyte, caved in to domestic and international pressure and agreed to sweeping electoral reforms. They had included a revamped Guyana Elections Commission, fresh voter registration to produce a new voters list and the counting of votes at polling places. The Carter Center’s former United States President Jimmy Carter had played a major role in convincing Mr Hoyte to reform the electoral machinery.

The PNCR is currently at the forefront of persistent calls for a clean voters list/ fresh house-to-house registration and the use of biometrics at polling stations to weed out multiple voting or voter impersonation.

Burnham, in coalition with the small opposition United Force, wrested political power from the PPP in the 1964 elections and the PNCR remained in office through rigged elections until 1992. “It was Burnham’s wisdom which got him into office in 1964,” he said, recalling that he was PNCR General Secretary at a “critical time.”

After the PNC lost the 1992 elections, internationally certified as free and fair, Mr Green had publicly called then party leader a “schoolboy” in politics.

As late as the 2020 general and regional elections, the PNCR-led coalition of A Partnership for National Unity+Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) had been accused of attempting to rig the outcome through several declarations by top officials of the Guyana Elections Commission. During and after the recount declared the PPPC as the winner, APNU+AFC had repeatedly alleged that that exercise had uncovered massive rigging by its PPPC especially on East Coast Demerara.

Mr Green was months later hauled before a PNC disciplinary committee and was expelled by what he had termed a “kangaroo court”. After his expulsion, he then went on to form his own political party, Good and Green Guyana, that had split the PNC’s votes in Georgetown in the 1994 Local Government Elections, leaving the GGG with the plurality of votes.

After Burnham’s successor, Desmond Hoyte, died in December 2002, Mr Green later returned to the PNC which he had once served as its General Secretary while that party had been in government.