With general elections around the corner, the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) has expressed fears that moves are afoot to rig the poll.
The party, led by its Political Leader, Nazim Burke, took to the streets on Wednesday to protest an action at the Parliamentary Elections, which it believes can pave the way for foul play in the election.
Congress is seeking to wage a battle against the decision of Governor General, Dame Cecile La Grenade to sack seven of the Returning Officers assigned to the Parliamentary Elections office.
The protest march, labelled “Operation Protect Democracy”, was aimed at sending a message over NDC’s concern about the state of democracy in the country.
According to Burke, the taking to the street by Congress is a fight for the integrity of the Electoral Office, a fight against dictatorship, a fight against “Project Grenada,” and one-man rule.
Burke pointed out that the dismissal of about 50 percent of the Registration Officers has has created an electoral crisis in the country.
He said the march has signaled the start of a new struggle for liberation of the country from the rule of the long-serving Dr. Mitchell.
“Let us see this march as the beginning of the march to freedom. Let us treat this march as the first step to our freedom and our liberation from the New National Party,” he remarked.
Sen. Burke announced that Congress will continue hitting the streets in the coming days and weeks.
“This is really a very disturbing and frightening situation, and we will make it our duty as a political party to sensitise the public,” he said.
In referring to the small number of people who participated in the march that was hurriedly put together after news broke on Monday about the dismissal of the Registration Officers, Sen. Burke said all big things start small, and Congress’ business is to ensure that “we continue to keep the people informed and sensitised on the current issue”.
“Democracy is at stake, the integrity of the Electoral Office is at stake. Never before in the history of our country has there been a mass firing of public officers.
Never before has our Electoral Office been purged by the Governor General or anyone else, purporting to act in deliberate judgment,” he told covering the march.
“We are not convinced that this is an act of the Governor General acting alone. In fact, we feel certain that there must have been other consultations with other political authority,” he said.
Congress Chairman, Vincent Roberts described Wednesday’s march as historic.
Roberts told the participants on the march that many more persons would have loved to join in the protest action but are afraid of intimidation, harassment and victimization by the Mitchell-led regime.
He urged them not to be discouraged by those who will claim that the numbers small and will not have any impact.
“The numbers are small but our cause is great. We are standing up for democracy,” he quipped.
“Today is the beginning of a new movement to get the people to fight the dictatorship”, he said.
Under the watchful eyes of a few uniformed Police Officers, the placard-bearing protestors chanted – “Tell Keith we ain’t taking that, they want to rig the elections”, One, two, three, four, pack your bags and go”, ‘Hands off democracy, hands off the Elections Office, and “Tell the GG hands off democracy”, and “We shall overcome”.
The march, which began at the Alleyne Francique Roundabout, made its way to the entrance of the Botanical Gardens in Tanteen where the Office of the Prime Minister is located and onto Tanteen Terrace towards the Parliamentary Elections Office.
THE NEW TODAY also commented retired School Principal, Ada Holder who resigned as Deputy Supervisor of Elections last Friday in protest against the massive firings by Dame Cecile.
Holder declined to comment on the issue but a close relative who spoke with this newspaper said that she has had “enough” and decided to call it a day.
Supervisor of Elections, Alex Phillip refused to be drawn into comment on whether he had held any discussions with Dame Cecile on the performance of the sacked Returning Officers.