Former chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), Major General (Ret’d), Joseph Singh, is calling for consensus to help heal Guyana.
“Mature leadership reaching across the political divide must be prepared to achieve a degree of consensus in the decision-making process so that no one feels excluded because his or her party did not win the elections or is not represented in Parliament.
That reaching-out process must commence now and be sustained by leadership, both political and civil society, committed to a process that alleviates the negative feelings, concerns and fears that pervade our society,” the official said in a letter to the editor yesterday of Kaieteur News.
“Our children need to see in us adults, those qualities that they should aspire to emulate in later life. They should draw strength and confidence from our social, economic and cultural relationships and from our political relationships in pursuit of the well-being of all Guyanese, and act in the best interests of Guyana as a Nation and as a member State of the global community,” Singh said.
His comments have been made as Guyana continues to wait for an announcement of the party that is leading Monday’s voting for the general and regional elections.
The matter has ended up in the courts now with a critical ruling on jurisdiction today.
The elections have been characterized by protests with one teen dead and school children injured.
Singh, a former army chief, made it clear that he holds no brief for any political party but is interested in working, like many others, towards achieving an outcome from the current 2020 elections challenges, that may not satisfy everyone but “which at the very least, complies with the Rule of Law and the Guyana Constitution, and one which is respectful of basic human rights: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
According to the former GECOM chair, the scenes from across the coastal regions of Guyana, captured on video and displayed over the recent days on television and social media, showed groups of citizens either celebrating or protesting, depending with which side of the political divide they are aligned.
“The sight of young men pelting bricks and bottles at ‘the other side’s’ supporters, the logs and obstacles deployed and set alight in order to block roads and other access routes, are all examples of the divisiveness in our society that seems to manifest itself after elections, and reflective of whether or not the electoral process and/or the results, are to the liking of one or other political camp. Such scenes are compelling as they are worrying, and more especially, when innocent children are in the crosshairs of acts of violence.”
Singh insisted that the leadership cadres of political parties have a responsibility to manage the expectations of their supporters and while legitimate protest is a sine qua non of human rights, this needs to be respectful of the sanctity of human life and of public and private property.
Singh said that 54 years after Independence on May 26, 1966, instead of harnessing the collective diversity, skills and talents of the population, the people of Guyana are now fighting each other for political power, dominance and control.
“Whatever the outcome of the decision of GECOM and whether the elections are deemed to be credible, it will not solve the extent of mistrust, fear and concerns that stalk the land and generate disunity in our plural society.”