…the interest of the people matters
THE impending national and regional elections in Guyana loom large in the minds of Guyanese at home and all over the world. Not surprisingly, this acute interest in Guyana’s upcoming elections also seems to be attracting the interest of many non-Guyanese and external political interests. It is no secret that Guyana’s recently discovered and announced “oil mine” might be partly responsible for the kind of interests that are suddenly emerging. As these various emerging interests compete for political and strategic position, the coalition government is negotiating a renewal of its political arrangements. Sadly, these negotiations are playing out, almost daily, in the public domain.
The tenor, tone and political posture of these negotiations are broadcast in press conferences and news reports. It appears that the AFC believes that making its demands public might advance that party’s political interest and ambition. In fact, we saw this type of strategy play out four years ago, so the party must feel confident in employing it again, probably because of their belief in its success.
My concern however, is, how can any serious coalition partner engage in this kind of public charade at such a critical time in the coalition/government’s history? Do those engaged in this “public charade” understand the effects of their actions on coalition supporters and the Guyanese people? Do they care that other political interests and aspirants are gauging the tone of these negotiations in order to sketch out their own strategy, propaganda and campaign? It is unclear why one party would take the ‘sticking points’ of these negotiations into the public domain; unless of course they believe that there are some residual political benefits to be had.
It is concerning that the press conferences and news reports are advanced to intimate or indicate the AFC’s political positioning, instead of advancing a concern that aligns directly with the interest of the people? Personal political or party interest must take second place to the interest of the people. Can the AFC explain how its demands, touted in the public domain, are in the best interest of the people and the coalition? While supporters of the coalition and people of Guyana are hoping that the coalition remains intact to defeat the internal sabotage which happened December 20th last year, at least one player in the coalition appears to be taking action to diminish that hope. Does the AFC have other intentions?
In my view, one of the most critical concerns of the coalition should have been centred on the question of a rogue MP. The devising of a system to ensure that a Member of Parliament cannot simply bring down a duly elected government by a single vote, is a very important matter. It is also an issue that is causing some nervousness among ordinary Guyanese who fear that the country can sink into a state of uncertainty by the single action of an MP. The CCJ’s ruling on that issue has major implications for the future and stability of the executive branch of government in Guyana, unless there are constitutional changes. The coalition and its partners by now, should be able to report to the people of the steps taken to prevent a repeat of what happened last December. I am surprised that the AFC did not take the lead on this matter. Is the AFC comfortable with a situation where any MP, for any reason can decide to use his/her one vote to collude with another parliamentary party to bring down the existing government? This issue will undoubtedly affect any government, be it a PNCR led or a PPP/C led. The ruling, in my view, can result in some MPs feeling overly powerful due to their one vote. At a time when the oil-industry is set to make a major economic impact on the nation, the temptation to use that one vote for unscrupulous intentions can be greatest. The concept of ‘conscience vote’ can become more loosely and liberally used, hence the need to guard against this reality cannot be more urgent. The question of how MPs will be selected and who heads the party’s list will now be of utmost importance for parties. So, the public political posturing and grandstanding by the AFC are quite confusing, given the bigger issues the coalition faces.
Many Guyanese have sacrificed a lot to get to a point where some semblance of normalcy has returned. Many lost their lives for simply expressing their fundamental freedoms, remember Courtney Crum-Ewing. Many people have suffered great personal loss! It is, therefore, unclear that the AFC does not seem to see how its own actions, in attempting to advance its own self-interest may have the potential to insult those personal sacrifices. While I have no problem about people, parties and individuals looking out for their own interest, I firmly believe that self-interest cannot take precedence over the interest of the people. I am not sure what the AFC hopes to achieve by bringing the coalition’s negotiations public. However, what I know is that this strategy can be very injurious to the very coalition it claims to want to be a part of.
The AFC is not the largest party in the coalition, but for some reason it feels that it must project itself as if it is. There can be no denying of what the AFC’s strategy is, but will that strategy help or hurt the coalition? The answer to this question is anyone’s guess! Does the AFC’s interest align with the interest of the larger coalition? Will the AFC rethink its strategy and embark on an approach that focuses more on the interest of the people? Will personal and partisan political interest and ambition take a back seat to the interest of the people? I will have to wait and see! The interest of the people matters!