I should like to take this opportunity to express my congratulations to the APNU+AFC alliance on its historic victory at the general and regional elections and to David Granger, Guyana’s new President. Most of Guyana, including civil society, many PPP supporters and spokespersons associated with or representing the Hindu cultural community, wish the new government success. We all look forward to measures to reduce poverty and corruption and for constitutional reform.
The results were close, as many observers had predicted, but the APNU+AFC alliance won the right to form the Government. A majority of the Guyana electorate supported APNU+AFC’s message, ‘It Is Time,’ which resonated with an electorate that had grown tired of what the PPP/C was offering, appeared to have little confidence in its promises, was not moved by its divisive message and voted for change.
APNU made substantial compromises with the AFC. The Cummingsburg Accord divided up governmental responsibilities and guaranteed 12 seats in the National Assembly and 40 percent of the Cabinet to the AFC. While it took fewer chances than the AFC, which gambled with its very existence, the opening up of the PNCR, first to the constituent elements of APNU, though small and like-minded, and now to the AFC, an important and independent political force, brings us into a new era of alliance politics, which introduces a significant non-ethnic dimension. It is ironic that roles have been reversed. The PPP has been the historical champion of alliance politics. The PNC/PNCR has resisted alliance politics most of its life. It is in its incarnation as APNU, that it has now successfully carried alliance politics to its creative height in Guyana.
The AFC deserves special mention for the courageous positions it took when it first ensnared a reluctant APNU into supporting a no-confidence motion and then changed course and decided to seek an alliance with APNU. It was well aware that it was courting political disaster if it joined an electoral alliance with APNU against the PPP. It had earlier mentioned that possibility. But whatever changes in attitude among the electorate that it detected, it boldly embraced the new approach and pushed forward with the alliance. The maintenance of its structural independence and a separate campaign strategy allowed the Party to play upon its distinct strengths. This victory was due in no small measure to the bold political decisions of the AFC and the innovative course it charted.
It is not surprising that the PPP has reached this denouement. It had lost its way since the passing of Cheddi Jagan in 1997. No longer motivated by his high ideals, it allowed one-man rule, arrogance, crime, corruption, nepotism and high living to flourish and become dominant features of its governance. In office for two decades, some supporters, sufficient to affect its majority in 2011 and now, grew tired of it and craved change. The PPP ignored the sentiments of this critical section of its support in 2011. It deluded itself by a self-serving analysis that apathy caused its supporters to stay away from the polls in 2011. This prompted an expectation that elections with a divisive political strategy will restore its majority. Thus it rejected any idea of a coalition government.
I did the best I could in many articles to project this idea that the 2011 results could presage historic changes. In “Ramotar holds the Pen of History in his Hand,” (SN 2014/09/28) I argued that the PPP could transform the destiny of Guyana in accordance with its historic mission of 1950 by creating national unity through a coalition government. The shocking reality is that such an option was not even discussed after the elections. I doubt that it ever was. President Ramotar preferred to sacrifice part of his first term and a second term, than to sit in a coalition, which Cheddi Jagan would have eagerly done, subject to agreed policies, had he faced the same situation.
The rejection of the election results by the PPP/C appear to be based on its claim that a number of statements of poll show a higher number of votes for APNU+AFC than it actually obtained, or a larger number of votes than was registered for the polling division. Coupled with the admittedly fraudulent statements of poll that were uncovered, these are serious charges.
But unless the PPP/C could have demonstrated that these discrepancies would have affected the overall results, there was no way it was ever going to persuade GECOM to do a recount merely on suspicion that there were other discrepancies. This was especially so since the statements of poll for 22 ballot boxes challenged by the PPP are said by GECOM to be identical to those in its possession, even though the PPP/C is saying that the statements of poll do not reflect the count or the amount of ballots in the boxes. There is no way GECOM was going to be persuaded, except by hard evidence that the results were likely to be affected.
The proper course, therefore, is for the PPP/C to challenge the results by an election petition as it has urged the PNCR to do in the past and as I have argued on the PPP/C’s behalf in court cases in 1992, when Desmond Hoyte conceded, and 1997. The PPP/C took the same or similar positions against the PNCR when it was in government. And it will be recalled that on substantially stronger evidence by the PNCR in 1997, both a total recount of the votes and its court case of Esther Perreira, it did not succeed in altering the count. For these reasons I earlier urged the PPP/C to concede as so many others have done, including its own supporters, and I do so once again. Conceding does not preclude challenging the results in court, as the PNCR did in 1992. A dignified magnanimity is called for at this time.