BROOKLYN: The New York based Caribbean Guyana Institute for Democracy (CGID) has strongly condemned as “racist” comments attributed to Dr. Rohan Somar, a head of the New York Chapter of the Alliance for Change political party (AFC). The AFC is part of Guyana’s ruling coalition government. Guyana’s Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo is an executive member while Vice President and Minister of National Security, Khemaraj Ramjattan is AFC Chairman. The Institute said Dr. Somar’s statements have tainted the AFC and called on the party to strongly repudiate them.
On October 19, 2017, President David Granger invoked presidential powers under the constitution that allowed him to supersede a provision requiring nominees from the opposition leader, and autonomously appointed former Guyana Supreme Court Justice, James Patterson, as Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission. Demerara Waves online newspaper on November 22, 2017 reported that in an email to AFC leaders in Guyana in reaction to Justice Patterson’s appointment, Dr. Somar allegedly said, inter alia, that “This unilateral appointment by the PNC Executive President of an Afro Guyanese GECOM Chairman, whether right or wrong, rips open the scars of PNC rigging the election. You have just thrown red meat to the notion of ‘PNC rigging election’ which, in my view, will cause to forever lose Indo-Guyanese support at the polls.”
In a statement issued Tuesday by Communications Director, Richard Millington, CGID blasted Dr. Somar’s comments as overtly racist. It added that “Dr. Somar’s suggestion that an African Guyanese Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission will automatically cause the multi-ethnic coalition government to lose Indian votes is the text book definition of racism and racial profiling. Moreover, his reckless association of African Guyanese with “rigging elections” – electoral fraud – is an insult that should make all Guyanese gravely nauseous. Such bigotry is not only reprehensible on its face but must be forcefully condemned by all Guyanese, regardless of race or ethnicity. It is dangerous and destructive to the body-politic of the nation, and undermines the government’s efforts to foster social cohesion,” the Institute said.
CGID posited that for the last twenty years the Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission was of Indian descent, but no one judged their performance or competence based on their race. That would have been equally condemnable. “Dr. Somar’s discernible prejudices apparently make him oblivious of the fact that no specific ethnic group or race has an inherent right, or is more competent, to govern Guyana or hold any particular constitutional office, over the others,” the Institute affirmed.