No time for confrontation

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This publication holds no brief for any political party in Guyana. But it supports the right of all political parties to function without humbug and harassment. Freedom of assembly is a central pillar of any democratic society, especially ones like Guyana where precious blood was shed to win fundamental human rights. It is with this in mind that we have begun to fear for our country. Whatever one thinks about the impasse which followed the 2020 election and the manner in which the PPP came to power, the fact is that it is Guyana’s legal government. But the manner in which that party has governed these past sixteen months has not inspired much confidence that it is mindful of the precarious political environment that exists here.

The aggressive partisan praxis of the ruling party has caused even some of its staunchest supporters to question its stewardship. The government seems fixated on exacting revenge on its opponents. From the prosecution of GECOM staff and PNC leaders to the laying off of scores of public servants deemed to be supportive of the opposition to the setting up of a parallel security apparatus, the government has signaled a confrontational praxis. A mere couple of weeks ago the country was blindsided by government’s draft amendments to the Representation of the People’s Act that skirts key areas of reform and focuses on punishment.

Last week the country witnessed the dragging into custody of former Minister of Finance, Winston Jordan ostensibly for misconduct in office. The picture reminded the country of former chair of the Police Service Commission, Paul Slowe being similarly manhandled by ranks of the police force. The obvious attempt to humiliate these two public servants represents nothing short of political obscenity. The question is this—what is the PPP’s endgame? Is the government courting political confrontation? If so, why?

And as we go to press there is news that the police force has issued a wanted bulletin for well-known New-York-based political activist, Rickford Burke. Burke who has been on the government’s radar for quite a while is apparently being charged under Cyber-Crime laws for, among other things, inciting racism. This on the heels of widespread calls by government’s supporters to clamp down on Political commentators who have used social media to criticize the government and expose a lot of its failings.

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All of this against the backdrop of heightened ethno-political grief brought on by the government’s seven percent offer to public servants without consultation with their unions. The obvious discrimination in distribution of economic resource, a key peeve in ethnically divided society, has drawn almost universal condemnation from the opposition leadership and followership. It is a development that has raised the ethno-political temperature to fever pitch. Unfortunately, the government has done nothing to tone down things. In fact, as pointed out above, it has instead piled it on.

This publication believes that the PPP’s clear targeting of opposition elements for prosecution is a dangerous use of the police for political ends. This is a backward step that we fear could plunge Guyana back into the dark days of the former PPP regime. Guyana has had a torrid time containing its governments since independence. The penchant for revenge, domination and authoritarian rule has been a staple. This has in turn hindered Guyana’s economic development , but above all it has retarded the country’s evolution into a truly democratic plural society.

The PPP would be well advised to slow down its political overdrive and think about the potential consequences of his chosen path. Guyana simply cannot withstand political instability. In the era of oil, we risk losing much more than anticipated. Political contestation and sparring are normal, but these must not consume the nation. The PPP must be reminded that it has a very limited mandate that should not be misused. Anger and frustration are galloping on the opposition side. The government must not further aggravate the situation.



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