Sweep away ‘cobweb’ of ethnic politics

Ralph Ramkarran

– former House Speaker

FORMER Speaker of the National Assembly Ralph Ramkarran has urged citizens to shun divisive, ethnic politics in Guyana, contending that for too long it has hindered the development of Guyana.

Ramkarran made the appeal in his weekly blog “Conversation Tree” as he reflected on a number of issues facing Guyana such as crime, poverty and the slow pace of preparation for oil in 2020.

“The impact of every major or social or economic decision is scrutinised through ethnic lenses,” he said, addong “Accusations under the radar of ethnic discrimination have flourished over the closure of several sugar estates, just as when the bauxite industry was miniaturised in the 1990s.”

Ramkarran said these problems cannot be resolved unless “our broken politics is fixed” which will allow for the society to heal and where citizens will no longer be “incentivised” by the political system to view decisions through ethnic lenses.

“The most fundamental challenge in Guyana’s modern political history, and recognised over the entire period, has been to devise a system where ethnic-political competition is reduced and/or is channeled into creative energies, so that ethnic dominance and competition would not stultify economic and social progress,” the former Speaker affirmed.

He added that local political parties have a firm grasp on the political space of which neither is willing to give up. This, according to him, generates a culture that promotes ethnic dominance where at least one ethnic group in Guyana feels as though its economic existence is threatened after elections.

To mitigate this climate, Ramkarran has opined: “Guyanese need a broad-based, popular, movement to sweep away the cobweb which has engulfed our politics – a movement that will mobilise the electorate to demand a refashioning of our political system away from the ‘winner take all’ liberal democratic system, which is unresponsive to Guyana’s problems.”

This popular movement does not need to replace the existing political parties, a feat not achievable in the short-term, but should aim to devise a system that will deprive the ethno-politics of its “oxygen”.

“This should create a structure and an atmosphere where our main political parties will be obliged to embrace each other in the joint governance of Guyana,” he said.