Return to democratic, accepted norms

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The time has come for the PPP government to return to accepted, democratic norms or else our society risk slipping down a very dangerous slope.

While this is not the first government to vastly over-reach and use the government and State to settle scores, we call on the present administration to eschew the pursuit of any agenda that promotes overt domination and discrimination, but rather govern in the interest of all Guyanese. From its refusal to engage the opposition to its use of the Police to go after real and perceived opponents to its distribution of resources to its supporters in violation of the principle of equity, the PPP continues to attract the label that it is behaving as if Guyana is its party’s private plantation.

This past week we witnessed threats to criminally prosecute former Minister of Finance, Winston Jordan, after what he believes was his criticisms of the government. Mr. Jordan has since released a statement denying the charges leveled by the AG. We have seen this course of action by the government before.

On Friday, former Chair of the Police Service Commission, Paul Slowe, was treated like a common criminal as he attempted to enter the Georgetown Magistrates’ Court to answer charges brought against him in absentia. These charges were instituted after Slowe allegedly refused to bow to pressures by the president to promote police ranks favourable to the government. Not only was the intervention by the president disgusting and perhaps a breach of the law, but the subsequent charges also follow the pattern of using the Police to go after those who offend the government. Then there was the president’s pronouncement on the guilt of opposition forces in New York in the burning down of Brickdam Police Station before any investigation. His berating of the Fire Service for its alleged lethargy was also in bad taste. The Fire Chief was promptly sent on leave.

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Not to be outdone, the Vice President proceeded to announce a $1.7 billion cash grant to severed sugar workers who have already received their severance pay. He also promised those workers training for guaranteed jobs in the Oil and Gas sector. To begin with, an independent study pegged the number of severed workers at approximately 4100 while former Minister Jordan puts the number at approximately 3800. What is distasteful about this scenario is the open preference for a section of the labour force which is closely aligned to the ruling party. One would think that in the face of strident charges of racism, the government would be more careful.

This publication calls on all Guyanese who cherish the integrity of our country to stand up against these atrocities. We especially call on those local and external forces which were vocal in defense of democracy during the election impasse last year to use their influence to impress upon the government that its actions constitute a violation of the tenets of formal and substantive democracy. Failure to do so would suggest complicity.

Ours is a fragile society. Our ethnic problems which render our politics vulnerable to conflict is well known. For a government to disregard this truism is the height of recklessness in high places. This publication is not naïve, we make allowance for the occasional over-reach. But what we have witnessed this past year surpasses simple errors of judgement. There is a pattern of disregard for accepted norms of governance. It is time to stop it before it reaches the point of no return.



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