What need is there for General Elections in Guyana Now? – By Hubert Williams

WHAT NEED IS THERE FOR GENERAL ELECTIONS IN GUYANA NOW ?
By Hubert Williams

Boston, Massachusetts, October 23, 2014 — I wonder at the need for general elections in the Co-operative Republic of Guyana in the immediate future? Campaigning will very likely revive old animosities, fan new hatreds, bring fear to many, possible death to some, likely cause considerable social dislocation and property destruction, and create an environment unattractive to badly needed-foreign investment. And after the poll, it is going to be the “same-old same-old”. Even if, perchance, there is a change in majority party, hasn’t the country had its fill of musical chairs?

Yet all the visible signs indicate the country’s major political groups are preparing for a poll: published statements from relevant quarters declare that the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) is ready, willing, waiting, and able.

It seems the country is approaching a dangerous time. Evidently, each party’s leaders are hoping to emerge with a clear majority so that they can ‘rule’ and reap the spoils of being in ‘office’ (Caribbean politicians usually say ‘power’). It would demonstrate such maturity to negotiate an effective national coalition without holding general elections, but have local government elections not held since 1994.

Let me restate what I had written three years ago in a widely-distributed article (October 2011) immediately prior to the last general elections (November 28, 2011) that “The pathway to unity, tranquility and development may be not the traditional winner-take-all for a single party, but shared government based on proportional representation. The question is whether the country’s politicians are sufficiently mature to opt for such sophistication.”

In the same article there was this caution: “Those who possess power and wealth will have to learn to share power and seek to distribute more evenly the proceeds of Guyana’s gradual but evident economic recovery. I have seen at first hand the damage that can be wrought by angry little fellas with nothing in their hands but a few boxes of matches; and I also have a vivid recollection of ‘PLAN X 13’ and its principal activists.”

Guyana would not wish to return to those dark days of murder and mayhem.

In all of the published statements that have come to my attention, the country’s principal political leaders have spoken of the need for peace and tranquility… order and good governance…and (after the elections which now seem almost upon us) for a national government fairly administering Guyana’s affairs in the interest of all of its people.

However, every one of them has failed to make that essential declaration that “if my party wins an outright majority (i.e. at least 33 seats in the 65-seat National Assembly), in the interest of peace, security advancement and development, my party will proportionately share the Government with the other political parties represented in the Parliament”.

No one, to my knowledge, has made such a declaration.

Just “sounding brass and tinkling cymbal signifying nothing”?

Obviously, they are all hoping to win outright and go it alone, ignoring the lessons of the recent past: that the people of Guyana on November 28, 2011, voted for shared government and not continuation of the post-1955 political dissension that has sorely split the country, brought considerable death and destruction, resulted in the flight of badly-needed human resources and retarded Guyana’s development.

The people of Guyana have the right to say down with elections now (that is, if they believe they’ve stood enough nonsense), and call on the Government and Opposition parties in the National Assembly to begin negotiations for the formation of a National Government – shared power, and the de-politicisation of the Civil Service, Defence Force, Police Force and all other relevant state agencies.

Elections now in Guyana would likely open too many dangerous old wounds.

To really test the level of their sincerity and commitment to the interests, well-being and welfare of the people of Guyana, let members of the Parliament subordinate their personal animosities, their parties’ old enmities and new ambitions and begin serious negotiations for the establishment of a national government. I believe that were such done the 800,000 population of this remarkably mineral rich and so fertile country (without hurricanes, without earthquakes, without other major natural disasters) would breathe a huge sigh of relief and look to the future with renewed hope.

But…. the old saying goes “If wishes were horses…. etc… etc… etc”.

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