Documents – commentary on Guyana’s politics

Documents – commentary

 Stabroek staff On December 16, 2012 In Editorial | 

SUMMARY:  Having said that, it must also be observed that whatever the incompetence of the opposition, it is the government alone which has the power to choose a path of dialogue and compromise on key issues, since it is the one in office. At the bottom of all of this is the governing party’s state of denial; its attempts to proceed as it has always done without reference to its minority status; its obsession with the retention of power; and its fear that if it does choose compromise and this works, its constituency will find this an acceptable arrangement and vote accordingly. Psychologically, in other words, it is not looking for solutions. It is just the nation’s tragedy that it is not prepared to take on board what Secretary-General Insulza advised four months ago.

EDITORIAL          

It is certainly not unknown for the nerve centre of official communications in this country to disseminate bizarre statements, but the one which filtered into the inboxes of unsuspecting media houses on Tuesday was exceptional even by Gina’s none too balanced standards. Rejoicing in the title ‘Guyana’s parliamentary democracy being subverted: The Opposition’s “dictatorship of one”’ the emailed document rambled on for page after page about events in parliament since the general election of 2011, ending with a comparatively short piece on “Events beyond the National Assembly.” From references in the text it was also clear that the hard copy of the email had been augmented by a number of appendices, including Guyana’s statement to the OAS in August of this year, so as far as size goes, the complete work must have been really quite formidable. The original recipients of what GINA said was a “Government of Guyana Briefing,” were apparently international and regional bodies, although which ones in particular were the fortunate beneficiaries of a copy of this magnum opus was not specified.

In our Wednesday edition, we quoted directly one or two of the salient points in the document, viz, “The developments in the National Assembly and the wider society in Guyana are subverting parliamentary democracy and posing a serious and real threat to political stability”; and “The Guyana Government calls on your organization to monitor and to consider what statements and postures it may wish to make in support of the protection of parliamentary democracy and the legitimacy of a democratically elected government.” It was heady stuff.

Government complaints included various unsubstantiated allegations about politically driven disturbances which it claimed had been organized and led by “extreme fringe elements” of APNU and the AFC with a view to creating “political instability,” along with voluminous details on the story of the National Assembly as told by the PPP, none of which made riveting reading.

And that will be a problem for the  government  with this document. While its title will certainly command attention and send a few guffaws reverberating around the world’s capitals – after all, in most jurisdictions a majority of one or more is what democracy is about in the first instance – the turgidity of the remainder would have sent the most conscientious of bureaucrats nodding off. It would have been handed down to a junior official largely unread for filing, to be possibly retrieved for reference only if some background on Guyana’s affairs were to be required at some future point. In any case, what on earth does the government believe international and regional bodies are going to do on receipt of this litany of grievances against the opposition? Does it seriously think that these are going to be seen taking positions on what they would regard as internal matters for internal solutions? It obviously did not get the message in August, when following its earlier presentation to the OAS, it was told diplomatically by Secretary-General José Miguel Insulza that dialogue was the best way to deal with the problem. Why is it therefore committing the same impropriety again?

The question arises, of course, as to why the government went to all this trouble, and which of the stars in its parliamentary constellation was responsible for beavering away through the night to draft this ponderous document – Ms Teixeira, Mr Nandlall, or even Dr Ramsammy, perhaps? Maybe it was a group effort. Whatever the case the first question was answered in our edition yesterday when Leader of the Opposition David Granger told this newspaper that the government was responding to a dossier which APNU had dispatched to some of the same international bodies the day before. And in case anyone is labouring under the illusion that the governing party has a lock on prolixity – not so; APNU’s effort ran to an immodest 133 pages, which far exceeded what the government could muster.  Under the combative title ‘The Executive War on the Legislative Branch,’ it comprised, so it was reported, 90 articles which had been published by GINA,  that the main opposition said contained language and expressed opinions “which have the potential to impair collaboration between the executive and legislative branches and impede the work of the National Assembly.” In this instance, there is no secret about the author; Mr Granger revealed that it was him.

One imagines that the senior bureaucrats in the wintry northern capitals at this point in the season would not be exerting themselves unduly pondering Guyana’s seemingly intractable problems, and the first document from APNU would have been no more thoroughly perused than the second from the government. In fact, at 133 pages it is even less likely to be read through than the administration‘s effort, and in any case it again relates to Guyana’s internal politics which as said earlier, international officials regard as something Guyana has to deal with. It is worth remarking, however, it hardly paid the government to try and answer APNU, since what it had to say would simply appear by implication to offer a measure of reinforcement to what the main opposition was claiming. After all, as indicated above, Mr Granger’s document was apparently based on Gina reports, not statements from opposition sources.

In any case, answering APNU in the international arena employing the same level of language and accusation that the PPP uses routinely at home, does the government no credit, and will diminish its standing abroad where more circuitous, diplomatic presentations are the norm. It is not as if either, international bodies do not have their own sources of information of one kind or another, and simply accept without question whatever of a partisan nature lands on their desks. That document applies to APNU’s presentation too, of course, except in this instance the main opposition is not the government and as a consequence has less to lose by its mode of procedure.

If international bureaucrats are unlikely to read the verbose efforts of the two sides, then the Guyanese public will be even less inclined to interrupt their Christmas preparations to bore themselves silly. The people who will be most concerned about all this are the two protagonists, for whom these documents will form the basis for yet another round of tiresome exchanges. This is not to say that one of the submissions at least does not contain serious misrepresentations (this newspaper has not seen the other), it is simply to observe that there is nothing further at this stage to be gained by these kinds of public altercations. Furthermore, while there may be looming crisis situations where it is appropriate to make appeals to the international community, now is not one of them. At some point our politicians have to learn that ultimately answers have to be generated locally.

Having said that, it must also be observed that whatever the incompetence of the opposition, it is the government alone which has the power to choose a path of dialogue and compromise on key issues, since it is the one in office. At the bottom of all of this is the governing party’s state of denial; its attempts to proceed as it has always done without reference to its minority status; its obsession with the retention of power; and its fear that if it does choose compromise and this works, its constituency will find this an acceptable arrangement and vote accordingly. Psychologically, in other words, it is not looking for solutions. It is just the nation’s tragedy that it is not prepared to take on board what Secretary-General Insulza advised four months ago.

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Comments

  • Cyril Balkaran  On 12/18/2012 at 8:10 am

    The Parliament of Guyana did an experiment within the Constitutional Niceties and that experiment has now backfired on the leader of the Opposition, Mr. Granger and his buddies. They have created a One Party State in which President Ramotar is the Democratic Dictator. They have refused by their very own actions since Nov 2011 to pay heed for the need to compromise and have used the one plus to sabotage and subterfuse the Government of the day. This is an unparalled situation and it reminds me of the 1960’s when Jagan called on Kwame Nakhruma of Ghana to intervene in Guyana’s Politics. jagan asked the Statesman of Africa to force LFS to agree to a National Govt after the 1964 General elections under PR produced a 40% for PNC,a 48% for Jagan and a 12 % for UF. LFS refused to agree and declared it shall be either Jagan or Burnham! And so Guyana contined under this kind of Politics up to this day! What a shame that in the 21st Century we are not willing to forget partisan Politics for the greater good of the Country and not of our selves! The polupation is crying out for Peace and common sense politics not divisive Politics, The choice is with our own 65 MP. So why waste time and runaway from the problems you have created by now going to foreign leaders and Institutions. It is better to bow to the feet of Ramotar than to exhibit Political Puerility!

  • Thinker  On 12/19/2012 at 5:26 am

    Can no one else comment and make sense of all this? How come the Opposition has created a one party state with Ramotar as Dictator and we are now to expect the former to bow to the feet of the latter?

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