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Guyana’s 2020 election has turned out to be a watershed in Guyanese political history. Not for the reasons that have been bandied around by some forces, but because it has forced Guyanese to come face to face with the political realities which have bedeviled the country since the coming of political independence and before. Given the fact that a section of the chattering class has disproportionate access to the public and private media which have together been weaponized as part of Regime Change, there has been a simplistic explanation of what has occurred in Guyana since March 2, 2021.
Self-serving and biased political narratives are nothing new to Guyana—ours is a divided-society in which entire groups view socio-economic and political reality through narrow prisms. But in all of my observations and study of Guyanese politics. I have never encountered a more nonsensical, minimalistic and ultimately mean-spirited narrative as the one that has been dominant in the media this past year.
To reduce an election that took five months for a winner to be “ installed” to a man with a piece of paper in a building is tantamount to trafficking in the comedy of all comedies. To throw around a word that means everything and nothing in Guyana to describe an election in which the world’s superpowers descended Eldorado-like on an hitherto unimportant post-plantation society in the midst of an election is nothing short of political gangsterism. To allow ones disappointment at a government with impeccable human rights record to lead one into unholy dens of revenge is the height of political immoralism. Some who walked that road last year are now trying to disassociate themselves from their sojourn. Others, steeped in barefacedness, are still trying in the face of reason to sell their stale merchandise.
I have been demonized by some friends and foes for not choosing a winner before all the evidence has been put before the world. I have been branded a rigger, a supporter of rigging and a racist by those who wanted to buy a public voice to validate what has turned out to be Regime Change. I have had my difficulties with the Coalition in and out of government. They targeted me more than once for discrimination when in government. Some of their top leaders hate my guts. I hope such people never again get near to political power. But I will not allow personal disappointment to drive me into political conspiracies aimed at unjustly deposing them.
Many literally and figuratively offered themselves up for sale. The compensation was attractive, but I refused to nibble. I was taught in my village to not “allow meh eye to yellow two time.” As I said during the five-month impasse, I would not take a side in a standoff that runs deeper that catch words like “democracy” and “rigging”. I know better. While I am stoutly opposed to electoral rigging and will never participate in such activity, I would also never allow those with partisan agendas to use that word to get me to join cabals of revenge steeped in hidden self-interest and to validate regimes of domination.
The truth of the matter is that the 2020 election is not over. Here are the reasons. First, it was an election in which there was no clear winner—both sides put forward compelling cases to boost their respective claims as the victor. Second, from ambassador to prime minister to observers, external forces became so involved in the election that the sovereignty of the election was compromised. The external forces did not intervene as mediators—they instead lent their credibility and power to before the election was over validate the claim of one contestant over the other.
Third, what ensued was an impasse in which both sides were unprepared to surrender to the other and in turn moved to mobilize their ethnic constituencies in support of their resistance. Fourth, a recount mechanism was created to bypass the normal route by which electoral winners are declared. Fifth, the recount threw up two results—one based on a raw count and the other based on an audited count. Sixth, GECOM CEO produced an inconclusive report that was rejected by his Chair. Seventh, a GECOM majority chose the former result to determine a winner.
Eighth, a winner was declared as if elected, but has not been conferred with popular legitimacy. Ninth, the declared loser, has since filed petitions challenging both the official declaration and the mechanism by which they were made. Tenth, a major leader of one of the external actors visited the country shortly after the election and entered into agreements with the installed government, some of which have not been publicized by the government. Eleventh, one of the major external actors, the USA, has since deemed the government installed as opposed to being elected.
When one takes all of the above factors into consideration, it is clear that the 2020 elections were more than mere elections. They were an occasion for a convergence of ethnic, geopolitical and economic agendas and concerns. Many forces wittingly and unwittingly embraced the grand plan. Others self-righteously wrapped themselves in notions of democracy that have little to do with core democratic values. Abstract democracy is never a substitute for a substantive democracy in any society, moreso a society as complex as Guyana.
The courts have been drawn into the conflict in a way they have never been involved hitherto. A new court of last resort, the CCJ, assumed jurisdiction when it was not thought by many to legally lack it. Thus far the courts have adjudicated based on their reading of the law. But the election has graduated to more than mere letter of the law. What the elections have evolved into is a gathering of the challenges of managing a complex society that has now evolved into a potentially oil-rich country sitting next door to a geo-political hotspot. To understand and explain the 2020 election one has to grapple with those facts. The petitions are working their way through the courts. In effect, the courts are really taking a second look at the evidence—this time in a post-installation environment. We await their verdicts.
Finally, I do not believe that the recent US Human Rights report is an idle document. Its use of the word “installed” instead of “elected” is not accidental. Its citing of the complete monopoly of the media by one side in a volatile country is most instructive. Its reference of the Chis Jones incident is also not idle chat. Superpowers work in mysterious ways. The forces aligned with the installed government lauded US intervention during the five-month as aiding the consolidation of democracy. Now that the USA seems to be questioning the democracy they protected last year, those forces are silent.
More of Dr. Hinds’ commentaries can be found on his website guyanacaribbeanpolitics.news and on his Facebook page Hinds’Sight. Catch him on Facebook on Thursdays at 7 pm for Politics 101 with Dr. David Hinds.