“PNC always gets a free pass” – Jagdeo on Hamilton Green’s election rigging statement

The content originally appeared on: INews Guyana
Vice President Dr Bharrat Jagdeo

General Secretary of the ruling People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Government), Bharrat Jagdeo, has called out the civil society bodies in Guyana on their deafening silence over former Prime Minister Hamilton Green’s statement last week about rigging the upcoming 2025 elections.

During an address to a group of persons gathered for the LFS Burnham Foundation Annual Commemorative Symposium 2024 last Friday, Green suggested that election rigging be used to remove the PPP/C administration from office.

His remarks were met with fairly silent reactions with only one private sector body condemning it.

On Thursday, however, Jagdeo called out the various civil society bodies for not publicly denouncing the “outrageous statement” made by Green.

“Here is a former prime minister of this country… [saying] they must rig the elections – the PNC… This is at a PNC conference and nobody challenged him there. In this country, where is the outrage there in civil society? Just imagine, if the PPP – say Sam Hinds [former Prime Minister] – were to say something like that, they would kill Sam.”

“It’s a serious matter. Here is a former Prime Minister saying we should continue to rig to stay in power. We must do this, we must rig elections. It’s an acceptance that they’ve been rigging elections in the past and [there is] not any contrition about it, not any remorse about it. No attempt to reform past behaviour. [They’re saying] forget that we just try tried it again [in 2020] but this is a foolproof way in the future and that should be our future policy for gaining and staying in power,” Jagdeo noted.

The PPP General Secretary called out the media and several local organisations for their treatment of the matter.

Hamilton Green

He contended, “This is a major bit of news and it just went out the window because it’s done by the PNC. They always get a free pass on their failed economic policy, their failed projects, the massive corruption that they engaged in, their lack of vision, their outrageous statements, and their racism. They always get a free pass in this country from the media and civil society.

If you thought that was just an aberration and an outlier statement, it is not so. It is core PNC value,” the GS posited.

Jagdeo also called out the Leader of the PNC – the ruling party in the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) Opposition, Aubrey Norton, for making excuses for Green.

During a press conference on Thursday, Norton, who is also the Opposition Leader, along with other PNC Executives essentially defended Green, saying his statement was taken out of context.

Green had told the gathering of mainly PNC supporters that he had engaged another group and mentioned the rigging of elections to get the PPP out of government.

The symposium was organised to commemorate the 101st birth anniversary of Forbes Burnham – a former PNC leader and President of Guyana, whose legacy is largely attributed to his dictatorship-style leadership and blatant rigging of several elections. This started after Burnham won the 1964 elections at which time, Green was the General Secretary of the PNC.

“…It was Burnham’s wisdom which got him into office in 1964. I was General Secretary at the critical time. And if, as I told one of the groups I met [Friday] morning, if they say he rigged elections, I say we should keep rigging to save us from these devils, these bastards, these demons that we have,” Green declared during the event that was live-streamed on Facebook.

During his remarks, Green proposed the use of the LFS Burnham Foundation building to not only “eulogize Burnham” but also educate young people on what needs to be done.

Further suggesting that the PPP Administration could be pressured into calling snap elections, Green posited, “I’ve been in this business long and we have to begin preparations to deal with that prospect today.”

Recalling that he was nursed into politics by his mother, the PNC politician contended that the same needs to be done with young people today. Green even offered his services to engage these young people.

“If the Captain on this Captain’s Deck is Bharrat [Jagdeo, who is also the Vice President] and [President Dr Irfaan] Ali, who is being portrayed as a saint, they have to learn the language that they will understand because if we don’t, we’ll be betraying the legacy of Burnham, Cuffy, Quamina and the Enmore Martyr’s,” Green noted.

Under the Burnham regime, there was blatant rigging of the National Elections in 1968, 1973, 1978/1980 and 1985 in the PNC’s favour. It was not until 1992, that the PNC was removed from office when the PPP won the elections and stayed in office until 2015.

However, when the PNC-led APNU/AFC Coalition, under the David Granger presidency, fell to a No-Confidence Motion (NCM) in December 2018, it went against the Guyana Constitution and did not go to elections until more than a year later on March 2, 2020.

In another attempt to cling onto power, the APNU/AFC, after an almost smooth polling day, colluded with senior GECOM officials to rig the election results – a move which plunged Guyana into a five-month political deadlock.

Several international observer missions including the United States-based Charter Center and other global bodies, world leaders and even regional powers had called out the PNC-led regime for its blatant attempts to derail the election results. This support from the international community coupled with strong and persistent pushback from local stakeholders ensured that democracy prevailed and saw the PPP returning to office in August 2020.