‘I have no intention of ever rigging elections’ – Granger
President David Granger on Friday brushed aside suggestions that his pursuance of the ideals of late President Forbes Burnham could extend to the rigging of elections, which Burnham was accused of during his presidency.
“I have never rigged an election in my life; I have no intention of ever doing so,” Granger declared at a press conference at the Ministry of the Presidency.
President Granger has been widely criticised for his unilateral appointment of Justice James Patterson as the Chairman of the Elections Commission after rejecting three lists of nominees from Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo.
“I am not aware that rigged elections was an ideal of Forbes Burnham,” Granger stated. Burnham, leader of the Peoples National Congress (PNC) ruled Guyana from 1964 until his death in 1985. He was accused of rigging elections to stay in power.
Granger has repeatedly pointed to the ideals of Burnham, but said as far as rigging of elections was concerned, “I don’t see how that is applicable to anything that I have said or intend to do.”
“Whenever I spoke of Mr Burnham, I spoke of the ideals of which he implanted in the party he founded – the Peoples National Congress.
“I spoke about his commitment to education – the construction of the various multilateral schools (at) Anna Regina, New Amsterdam, Bladen Hall and elsewhere.
“I speak of infrastructure – the Demerara Harbour Brigde, the Canje Bridge, the international airport. I speak about housing.”
“I think he has made a contribution and I have no compunction about admitting that that those are ideals which have served the nation well.”
“If you know what Guyana was like in 1964, you’d realised by 1974 we had made tremendous strides and I’ve also referred to those achievements,” Granger stated.
The widespread criticisms of the appointment of the new chairman of the country’s elections body included reminders of the country’s history of troubled elections, including claims of rigging and other irregularities.
Granger told reporters that he has confidence in the new Chairman.
Apart from his sudden and unilateral appointment, Justice Patterson’s appointment was also mired in controversy when it emerged he had omitted to mention he was “acting” Chief Justice of Grenada in 1987, rather than the substantive Chief Justice as stated in the CV he submitted to the President.
Justice Patterson would have served as acting Chief Justice under the unconstitutional court in Grenada in 1987, as far as records go.
He was sworn in minus pomp and ceremony on October 19, 2017 by President Granger at State House.