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By GHK Lall
A lot has been written about the proposed electoral reforms (RoPA)), with most being sharply critical of the misplaced emphases of the PPP Government. Those ranged from the not-so-subtle gerrymandering of thorny Region Four to troublesome areas (GECOM) totally ignored to the embedded racial objectives, which are sometimes nuanced, but cannot conceal PPP machinations. No matter how denied by the Government’s electoral reforms verbal and legal shaman, the Hon. Attorney General (AG), the astute are not fooled that they feather only the party’s nest, while leaving the nation dangling in its everlasting state of controversies and torturous suspensions.
This was what the Guyana Human Rights Association (GHRA) brought profoundly and succinctly to the fore. I salute it, because I think that it hit the nail flush on the head, which most (including myself) gave a glancing blow. Though I had shared my thoughts in an earlier public contribution on electoral reform proposals, in select areas, they were carefully muted. However, I think that the GHRA surgically lanced Guyana’s electoral abscesses, when its public release drove a spike into the raw nerve of the proposals.
Specifically, the GHRA’s release commented along these lines: ‘the proposed consultation to amend the RoPA is calculated to further, rather than reduce, political tensions in Guyana by keeping attention focused on the post-elections fiasco of 2020 and to sustain political polarization. To this extent, it constitutes a piece of monumental hypocrisy.’ That is a verbal ass-kicking. Period. By keeping its constituency focused on 2020, and inciting passions still higher, the PPP electoral reform proposals serve as a surefire diversion from its corruptions in contracts and relief cash; and its enormous failures with new and developing oil issues (audit, reports, Payara leverage).
For sure, it complements some of what was shared by other commentators, but the GHRA brought reform proposals down to a comfortable reading level, with an astounding clarity that I do not recall encountering in prior writings. No Guyanese can claim lack of understanding of the PPP’s objectives. Not one citizen, who can still claim to be a clean and conscientious thinker, a true nationalist, should pretend not to appreciate where all this is going.
I contend that, when looked at from the GHRA’s perspective, what the PPP placed into the public domain with much brave talk about a consultation process, exposes the party for what it is: hellbent on hegemony, ready to gain such unassailable advantage by any method necessary (inclusive of what has madness plastered all over it), and fully prepared to defend its electoral reform handiworks with what is nimble, but feeble, footwork.
It is a sad testimony of where we are in this country that the Hon. Attorney General could first preside over something like this, and then steps forward proudly to stand by it. If he possesses a fraction of the smarts that has been attributed to him, and anoints himself with, then he would have declared himself not willing to be part of what further devastates this society. After all, there is a limit even to all for one, and one for all, which the AG should know well. It is appalling that Guyana’s chief legal officer should allow his name to sponsor a continuing calamity like this. As this and other issues are examined, it is now undeniable that the AG has lost touch with where his foremost obligations reside: it is with the state, and not his party, to which credit this calculating timebomb will work. If he still cares, I point him to the Hon. Archibald Cox of Watergate fame and ill-fortune, which is who he should have been; and not the Bork, Ashford, and Gonzalez that he relishes being domestically.
For here we are, in the first instance of His Excellency speaking of unity, and this shallow, specious business about ‘One Guyana’. His Excellency deploys the Hon. Prime Minister as his Delta Commander to the ‘One Guyana’ end, to deliver some kind of snow job. But, in the next breath, and on behalf of the same ruling party, the AG goes in the opposite direction and stands as the principal orchestrator of these divisive electoral reform developments, which have all the elements of perpetuating what have rent and traumatized the misinformed, misled, and misused peoples of this wounded society. Taken together, they neither help nor heal, but hurt and horrify. They do not resolve anything; rather, they return divided Guyanese to the same places as before, if not at lower depths.
Last, this dissolves whatever trust there may have been that the PPP was sincerely interested in genuine electoral reform. Or on most other things of grave importance to this battered society. Without a doubt, these electoral reforms set the stage, should they leave draft form (and sham consultation exercises) in the same shape, for more of the self-inflicted batteries four years hence that we lived with a year ago. And still do.