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Guyana’s fate rests in President Irfaan Ali’s political immaturity and Leader of the Opposition Joseph Harmon’s opportunities. Harmon must demand engagement with Ali in moving Guyana forward. There must be an adult in the room. Simultaneously, if Ali continues to refuse engagement, Harmon must utilise the opportunity to internationalise the anti-democratic behaviour and assault on constitutional expectations. He must also take the opportunity to mobilise the Guyanese constituency-across the various divides- in recognising that the tactic employed by the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) is putting this country on a pathway of conflict, destruction and grief.
He is being urged to take opportunity to meet with the different sectors, interest groups and others in society, including the media to highlight and present the risk and grave danger which face our nation. The occasional press conference/statement lacks fight, stimulus to energise the society into lending more scrutiny and recognising the atrocities and dangers of PPP/C governance style. The PPP/C only reacts to pressure and will exploit and trample any and every perceived weakness of their opponents.
Whereas in some quarters there is expectation that the trade union movement must lead the fight against the Ali regime attacks on labour with its ethnic cleansing and recrimination policies, the trade union has been battered by successive uncaring and oftentimes unwise administrations, starting from Jagdeo. Labour cannot fully repel the assaults without an environment of tolerance to trade unionism shaped by political support and trade union activism. This is where the present parliamentary APNU+AFC must assert itself and partner with the trade union in the fight to restore citizens/workers’ dignity and respect.
I understand some who may feel compelled to ask what the trade union movement is doing may be guided by political interest and lack any knowledge or profound understanding of the challenges faced by civic and civil society in an atmosphere of political intolerance. The fact is, the David Granger administration when they had the opportunity to create a labour friendly environment and respect labour as a social partner as enshrined in the Guyana Constitution, embarked on a similar pathway as the Jagdeo regime, and even went a step forward to shut down the Ministry of Labour that gives direction to labour relations and industrial environment.
Harmon as Leader of the Opposition has the opportunity to realign society to value the role and input of stakeholders to nation building and unity as enshrined in our motto, pledge and patriotic songs. For whereas he seeks engagement with the Government, should he ignore other stakeholders he would commit the same mistakes as Granger as a leader who failed his constituents and wider society in this particular regard.
Ali’s political immaturity
The political immaturity of President Irfaan Ali must cease forthwith in the interest of this nation’s development, the peace and harmony of its citizens. Leader of the Opposition Joseph Harmon does not have to issue any statement of recognition of the Ali regime in order for the two, as the premier leaders of this country, to engage.
The Constitution of Guyana mandates engagement between the two office holders in the management and decision-making processes of the state. What Ali is seeking is the stroking of his ego that he is president, whether elected through a fair or foul process. That is not and has never been a constitutional requirement for engagement. No part of the world, in democratic societies, is such assinity practiced or expected.
The Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) declared the 2020 election and based on that declaration it was determined who sat where. That is sufficient to move the process of governing forward until the court, constitutional provision or term limit determines otherwise.
Claims of rigged election and political engagement
The People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) in 2015 made the claim that they did not recognise the A Partnership for National Unity +Alliance for Change (APNU+AFC) government and that that election was rigged. They were marching up and down the streets for days shouting, “rigged elections” and even petitioned the court to have the election overturned. That did not prevent the call by sections in society, including yours truly and the Guyana Trades Union Congress, for engagement between the political forces to move Guyana forward.
In fact, the APNU+AFC early in their term established a team to engage the Opposition PPP/C on governance. This had its fits and starts with the then Leader of the Opposition Bharrat Jagdeo refusing to participate because then Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo was the leader of the government team. Then former President David Granger acquiesced to the frivolous excuse and assumed the leadership of the government team.
The PPP/C’s hypocrisy must be noted and condemned. They must not be allowed to hide their anti-Black, anti-opposition and marginalisation using frivolous claims in violation of our constitution and good governance. They must not be allowed to continue their nonsense that threatens our peace and co-existence. Their efforts continue to push this nation to the brink of conflict and confrontation.
The fact of the matter is, whereas the PPP/C is recognised as officially forming the government they are also recognised as a government that did not win a free and fair election, but a government installed by fraudulent means given the “grave irregularities” as reported by GECOM Chair as discovered during the recount process and which includes the discovery of 47 ballot boxes in the PPP/C area (lower East Coast Demerara) with no officials documents, and through engineered hostile responses of an international community misled by their orchestrated propaganda.
The refusal of the Ali regime to engage the constitutional opposition will also make our country, our resources vulnerable to predators. Ali schoolyard bullyism attitude has no place in matured politics and is a continuation of the evil unleashed on this country during the Jagdeo regime. Imagine the childishness of refusing to engage because you feel you have not attracted what you think, not what the constitution mandates, is your due recognition.
The President is refusing to engage a group that is participating in the legislature. What audacity and how more ridiculous can it get? The political dysfunction continues to adversely impact the well-being of workers and citizens in the society. Enough is enough. According to GECOM’s declaration, the PPP/C has 233,336 votes and APNU+AFC 217,920. How dare the PPP/C seek to ignore the power of the APNU+AFC number (217,920), a mere difference of 15,416 votes. How dares the PPP? How dare them? This confounded nonsense, this PPP/C dictatorship must not be allowed to continue, lest we lose all rights to be involved, to dissent and to resist.