Oct 03 2001

EBC commissioners should resign

Posted by admin in Corruption, Elections

This is a letter to the Chairman of the Elections and Boundaries Commission

October 3, 2001

Mr Oswald Wilson
Chairman, Elections and Boundaries Commission
134-138 Frederick Street

The arrest of the women this week is only the start of a massive exercise in which many persons will be charged for falsely declaring their address in the San Fernando West Constituency yesterday.(21/09/01)

You know, one of the things that we in the Commission guard very jealously is the independence of the Commission … the other thing we feel very strongly about is the integrity of the Commission. (Raoul John, EBC Commission – 23/09/01)

The Commission (EBC) may regulate its own procedures yet you want a Commission of Enquiry? Is Parliament to tell them how to run their business? To call for a Commission of Enquiry into the conduct of the EBC is to cast aspersions on them. (Basdeo Panday, Prime Minister (29/09/01)

Dear Mr Wilson

This – my second letter to you, I expect, will suffer a similar, if not a worse fate than the first. As a citizen, however, I consider it my duty to remind you that in the governance of a republic supreme power is vested in the people and their duly elected representatives. And further, I am prepared to defend that principle against all who seek to subvert it.

In my previous communication, I called on the Elections and Boundary Commission (EBC) “to immediately undertake an open, independent and transparent forensic exercise to cleanse the electoral list of all defects”.

Through the present correspondence, I am strongly advising that all Commissioners immediately resign in the public interest. Should Commissioners insist on holding on to office, they run the very real and significant risk of further pushing the country into a deeper political/constitutional quagmire the likes of which none of us would wish to experience.

Whatever the personal integrity and independence of each, or indeed all, Commissioner(s) of the EBC, it cannot convincingly deny that there is a great deal of public mistrust and loss of confidence in its ability to impartially, ensure free and fair elections in the country.
Further, the EBC can take no comfort in the Commonwealth Secretariat’s Report. Their mandate did not include an investigation of the issues which now engage the Nation’s attention. The result of that election is still to be determined. And, whatever the result, it would inspire no confidence in electoral/political process that produced it. Nor can the EBC convince anyone of its view, as expressed by Mr Raoul John, that criticisms and allegations are coming from “mainly one group or quarter”.

This position has apparently blinded the EBC to the larger body of public opinion, which continues to express deep reservations over the conduct of the last general elections. Reservations not merely due to partisan considerations but rather to the stark realisation that the electoral process had been fatally compromised. This is attested to by the several arrests made by the police in connection with the voter padding issue as well as other elections related matters now before the courts.

In the present situation, the Commission’s invoking its independence and integrity, has a decidedly hollow ring and only heightens the suspicion that it is seeking to cover up possible evidence, which may confirm the many allegations.

Any election held therefore, under current conditions, would be a recipe for disaster. The most prudent course of action open to present Commissioners is resignation. This would clear the way for a fresh initiative to restore confidence in the independence and integrity of the EBC. It will also be the greatest gift that present Commissioners can give to our fledgling republican democracy. Failing this, history will not absolve members for failing to see the real opportunity for advancing democracy in Trinidad and Tobago.

In the public’s interest – Go In Peace!

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