Mr. Granger’s actions (or inactions), as well as those of GECOM’s, have again opened up the floodgates to a plethora of demands for that ever elusive concept of power-sharing (and constitutional reform). Presumably, power-sharing is seen as the panacea, and the acceptable pathway that can steer us away from a deeply bifurcated nation-state towards political nirvana. However, the political pundits, some dormant since 2015, failed to point out that the coalition has “dug in”, and that neither the coalition, nor the main opposition may be interested in power sharing at this time.
Nigel Hinds (of Change Guyana) quite appropriately reminded us that such a pathway should never be contemplated until the total ballots cast are accurately verified, a winner declared and a legitimate government sworn in, whether that winner is the coalition or the opposition parties. Otherwise, one negotiating partner might be bargaining in good faith with an illegitimate governing party (or parties) which controls a preponderance of power through its influence over the institutions of state. For sure, our continuing predicament raises pressing questions which Guyanese politicians seem woefully unwilling to confront, questions which we have consistently argued are integrally related to the ethnic security dilemma that exists among Africans and Indians.
But what course of actions are available should the coalition proceed with a swearing in ceremony amid fraudulent ballot counts? For one, the combined opposition should up the ante on calls for international economic and political sanctions on the intellectual authors and beneficiaries of this political coup. Yes, the poor and powerless may suffer, but that is the price the collaborators have imposed on the population. Two, to continue to demonstrate indignation and consternation against the slide towards consolidation of an ethnic dictatorship, the united Guyanese opposition parties should agree to proceed with a public swearing in ceremony of a Presidential and Prime Ministerial candidate of their own, with members of the opposition parties leading a “shadow” government. Three, while the observers have completed their task and have departed, deeply disappointed, the opposition forces should encourage countrywide peaceful protests that are carefully supervised and managed in safe locations.
Emphasis should be placed on “carefully managed” because innocent school children, law enforcement officers and civilians should never become victims of this political impasse. Guyanese themselves must demonstrate their resolve and willingness to show the international community that they are just as determined, as the gladiators of the “Guardians of Democracy”, to take their struggle for the preservation of democracy to the next level. Four, coalition supporters, and respected individuals, like Mr. Gaskin, Joe Singh, Mr. Ramphal, et al, should be praised for their historic stand, but their conscience should encourage them to continue their lobbying efforts to challenge APNU+AFC leaders to stand on the side of justice and transparency.
Finally, despite the deep racial chasm in our relatively young society, repeatedly demonstrated at every election, there are still many Guyanese who continue to insult our intelligence by calling for power sharing and constitutional reform, without first addressing the ethnic security dilemma. Guyana desperately needs a paradigm shift and a willingness among politicians to think outside the black box. In the past, we have suggested that in order to depart from our ethnic winner-take- all system, political leaders should consider a one-term Government of National Unity while embarking on constitutional reforms during that time to promote the concept of “Unity in Diversity”, assess the impact of public policy through ethnic impact statements, promote demographic/ethnic balance in the institutions of power (army, police, etc), and seriously explore the introduction of genuine functional federalism among 4 – 6 newly created regions, with real powers given to the “Governors” of those regions.
A federal structure will serve to avoid the intense competition for political power for control of the national government in Georgetown. [Another idea is to create a forward capital like Brazil and Pakistan and move the seat of government to the interior, but that’s another discussion]. Berbice already has a federal party (FedUp) which seem to have developed out of concerns for the specific problems of Berbicians. The Amerindians, our first people, in control of one of those regions, can have genuine representation if redistricting regional boundaries can provide them with local autonomy to govern themselves, as they see fit.
However, perhaps what the recent actions of the coalition has done, is to starkly remind us that even as Guyanese who may support a common destiny, we remain divided as several nations with different values sharing the same rented geographical and political space.