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In a few days it would be a year since the PPP was returned to power. As occurred when it regained power in 1992 after 28 years , its chief rival, the PNC, has questioned the authenticity of the result. The difference this time around is that there is a pile of evidence in the public domain thanks to an audit of the ballot boxes before the result was announced. The PPP on the other hand has cited attempts at fraud at GECOM which the latter purports to have corrected with a simple “recount.” In other words, an election result that was questioned by both major contestants was settled by addressing the charges of one side while ignoring those by the other side. That scenario can hardly pass a simple democratic test.
But who cares? Those who have read my commentaries in recent times may sense more than a passing frustration with the narrative advanced by sections of the opinion shaping class that is either oblivious to or deliberately silence the above scenario. Some even express surprise. How can persons who argued and witnessed for the so-called democratic outcome of the election be so surprised by the undemocratic actions of the “democratic” government? The truth is that democracy is not a fool, nor can it be fooled. The PPP government is the direct and indirect product of a deeply disputed election in a deeply partisan and ethicized country. Why should anyone be surprised that basic things like Covid19 relief, Flood relief, Cash Grants for schoolchildren and the Covid vaccines have become victims of and catalysts for new rounds of polarization?
What makes the situation so bizarre is that we have been down this road before. There have been two constants in Guyanese elections—ethnicity and external entanglement. The 1953 British invasion precipitated the ethno-political split of the multiethnic PPP. The ethnic-dominance policies of the 1957-64 PPP government coupled with USA/British external intervention led to the rise of a PNC government that became so intolerant of dissent that reversal of civil rights, civil liberties and human rights became the norm. The ousting of that government from office was mis-characterised as the return of democracy—a characterisation that served as a mask for the persistence of authoritarian rule and ethnic domination. After a brief interlude of a coalition government without coalition governance, the PPP is again in power with a bigger democratic mask.
And we pretend that we don’t know the dangers therein. It is as if Guyanese never learn from our political errors. The manner in which Indian Guyanese are defending the PPP’s right to rule after a flawed election is no different from African Guyanese silencing electoral malpractice under PNC’s rule. The way in which even non-racist Indian Guyanese are finding common ground with Indian supremacists in condemnation of every African Guyanese public person who do not share their election narrative is mindboggling. You read of innate African Guyanese bullying and the innate fear of the Indian Guyanese and you shudder because you know of Indian Guyanese bullying and African Guyanese fear also. The way in which social-race becomes biological-race is more than ridiculous. Indian Guyanese blasted the Coalition for a bad oil contract, but apart from Glen Lall they refuse to blast the PPP for not renegotiating the contract. And it goes on and on.
Yes, history repeats itself, but it does so in much nastier terms than before. The revenge for supposedly firing 5, 000 sugar workers is to fire twice that number of public servants. The revenge for investigating but not jailing alleged PPP corrupt officials is to jail without investigating alleged PNC corrupt officials. The revenge for alleged coalition snubbing of the media when in office is the complete blocking out of anything favourable to the Coalition parties. The revenge for not saying the PPP won a disputed election is to be barred from normal engagement with the opposition.
Is there any end in sight? History tells us that it is more likely to get worse than better. No amount of calls for ethnic unity will yield any positive results even in the face of external appropriation of our oil resources. Empty, often hypocritical calls for unity ever ignite racial peace because they are usually aimed at encouraging the victims to accept their plight without protest and resistance. Will the Americans punish the PPP for being unfair and brutal to the opposite community? No , because it is not in their interest to do so. The Americans have chosen the PPP and they are not going to reverse that until the PPP begins to act against American interests. So onwards we march until it comes crashing down around us.