A Welcome Development
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PRESIDENT, Dr Mohamed Irfaan Ali and Opposition Leader Aubrey Norton met for the first time in their official capacities on Friday last. This is the first such meeting since the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) was elected to office following the March 2, 2020 General and Regional elections.

This is indeed a welcome development, especially in the context of an earlier position taken by the A Partnership for National Unity+Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) Coalition not to recognise the legitimacy of the PPP/C administration. The fact that the Opposition Leader has responded favourably to an invitation by President Ali for consultation on a number of statutory appointments as required by the Constitution of Guyana is indicative, presumably, of an implied acceptance of a fundamental governance reality, namely, that the business of governance transcended the boundaries of partisan interests.

The fact is that regardless of the posturings of Mr Norton and the APNU+AFC regarding the ‘legitimacy’ of the PPP/C administration, the reality is that President Ali was legally and constitutionally sworn in as the duly elected Executive President of Guyana in verified free and fair elections. Whatever ‘flaws’ there may be in the electoral processes emanated entirely from the attempts by the APNU+AFC operatives in collaboration with rogue elements within the GECOM Secretariat to manipulate the results of the elections, which thankfully were thwarted by the interventions of the judiciary and the vigilance of the PPP/C and the other contesting parties, along with the observer groups.

Regardless of how one may wish to look at it, the transparent attempt by the APNU+AFC to rig the last General and Regional Elections has left a permanent stain on the country’s electoral landscape, comparable only to that dark period of the 1968-1985 wholesale rigging of national elections which has brought shame on an entire nation, not to mention the stigma of that of a ‘pariah’ state. The rupture of the democratic process by the PNC regime had inflicted enormous pain on the economic and social life of the Guyanese people. Indeed, it is a period that many felt that as a society we have left behind only to see the ugly head of the undemocratic ‘monster’ once again rising to the surface.

The way in which the political opposition was treated by the then PNC regime was beyond disgusting. Despite the fact that the PPP was the largest political party in the country with a mass political following, the PNC rigged its way to power for nearly three decades. The Constitution was amended to redesignate the political opposition as ‘minority’ party and the Leader of the Opposition as ‘Minority Leader.’ All manner of derogatory epithets were given to the political opposition such as the ‘Mensheviks’ as opposed to the ‘Bolsheviks,’ which the PNC arrogated to itself. Unashamedly, Forbes Burnham, the mastermind of electoral fraud, went to ridiculous limits to boast that the Mensheviks and the Bolsheviks cannot hold talks on equal terms because of the supposedly superior status of the ‘Bolsheviks.’

Thankfully, we have moved past that sordid past and full credit must be given to President Ali for agreeing to meet with the Opposition Leader despite the continuing false narrative of being cheated out of power in the last General and Regional Elections.

Nothing could be further from the truth and the sooner the APNU+AFC Coalition come to terms with the reality of its defeat, the better will it be not only for the Coalition and its credibility as a serious political opposition, but also for its standing with the Guyanese people and for that matter, the international community as a whole.

The harsh reality is that the APNU+AFC Coalition has been defeated in a free and fair electoral contest and nothing can change that reality. Whether it recognises it or not, the less it speaks of being ‘cheated’ out of office and the PPP/C as an ‘installed’ regime, the better will it be for its image as a serious opposition party.

Mr Norton now has an opportunity to change the narrative and embrace a new approach to governance, especially within the framework of the Constitution. The meeting with President Ali could very well set the stage for a broader range of consultations on the way forward for Guyana, especially at this exciting stage of the country’s development.

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