UNLESS the leadership of both major parties of Guyana — People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) and the A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) — gets it right, the sooner the better in the post-general elections phase — this nation could be faced with very unsettling challenges of racial/political disunity and violence, reminiscent of past years. This is not a doomsday prediction but a concern over the negative signals flowing from both parties on the way forward following a change in government but continuation of a political status quo based on the tenuous parliamentary majority of one and, compounded by an ominous renewal of belligerence from an old, powerful border neighbour — Venezuela.
While President David Granger and his more politically influential party and ministerial colleagues – like fellow retired GDF colleague, Joseph Harmon, and Attorney General Basil Williams — are signalling their militant verbal messages on the administrative arms of governance, the PPP seems either unwilling or unready to assert the quality of leadership the prevailing post-election scenario requires.
For a start, both the PPP/C leader, ex-President Donald Ramotar, and current President David Granger, who is the chairman of APNU, seem quite satisfied to regurgitate sterile platitudes about fostering of political reconciliation and national unity. Yet, neither has committed himself to WRITING the other even a single letter/note for a meeting to DISCUSS ideas and approaches for a different and better future for Guyana.
Guyanese, at home and of the diaspora are aware – irrespective of ethnicity and political affiliation — of the results of the May 11 elections, as well as the protests and challenges by the PPP against the declared results, now heading for the court amid lingering uncertainties.
Sadly, neither leader has ventured any practical initiative for a face-to-face engagement to discuss ANYTHING. While as new Head of State, Mr. Granger is understandably very much in the face of the public, via the media, now Opposition Leader Mr. Ramotar seems to have voluntarily become an MIA — missing in action person!
Yet, neither Mr. Ramotar nor his close advisers and party strategists could be unaware of how close the PPP/C came to retaining state power — even in the face of claimed fiddling with the officially declared results.
Why then, the apparent mood of drift and inaction by the PPP/C, after some 23 years of control of state power? It’s almost a replay of what the People’s National Congress (PNC) had enjoyed, with the fundamental difference being that party’s enormous skills for rigging elections.
There are now suggestions from among informed political watchers that perhaps the PPP should seriously consider holding a special congress to consider the way forward, based on the outcome of the May 11 elections and whether leadership and policies should be ratified or changes made, with the results of the elections at the party’s last congress being a relevant consideration.
Incidentally, it would not have gone unnoticed by supporters and detractors of the APNU/AFC that, following the electoral victory on May 11, there came calls, as reported in the local media, for free and fair internal elections in the PNC.
THE RODNEY INQUIRY
However, rigged elections, at either national or party level would hardly be a matter of concern at this time for Attorney General Basil Williams. Rather, of much interest to him as a matter of priority seems to be an anxiety to bring an immediate end to the international Commission of Inquiry into the killing of the world renown historian and political activist, Dr. Walter Rodney.
A co-leader of the Working People’s Alliance — (currently one of the parties under the umbrella of President Granger’s party – APNU), Dr. Rodney was assassinated by a bomb concealed in a walkie-talkie that exploded in the parked car in which he was at the time sitting on the night of May 13, 1980 in Georgetown.
Having reluctantly finally agreed to participate in the COI, comprising distinguished Caribbean legal personalities, the PNC’s representative, Basil Williams, who subsequently became Attorney General, seemingly developed a sudden anxiety to bring the probe to an end, eventually declaring a one-month time frame to bring it to an end, citing troubling rising cost factor.
The Rodney family swiftly denounced this puzzling development and we must now await the next development in this ongoing saga.
(Rickey Singh is a noted Guyana-born Caribbean journalist based in Barbados)
Analysis by Rickey Singh