If one of the two main political groups in Guyana, the Peoples’ Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) or the A Partnership For National Unity + Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) achieves an absolute majority at the March 2 general elections, one half of the population will feel alienated. This alienation has been the signal feature of Guyana’s politics since 1957. It has grown progressively worse since then, aggravated by and/or resulting in Guyana’s history of electoral manipulation, discrimination, and criminal and civil violence since 1962.
To eliminate this albatross, Guyana needs a political system where the main political parties alternate in power every two terms, or one where the two political parties share power equally. Since the former is difficult to constitutionally structure under a system of free, but adversarial, elections, the latter appears to be the only route out of a political dilemma which has emerged from the existence in Guyana of two large ethnic blocs that manifest their insecurities in fixed electoral choices.
An uncharted situation faced the new government after the 2011 elections. Having decided to go it alone as a minority government, a plan for governance designed to create some consensus was expected to unfold. An unstructured tripartite committee was announced but it lost credibility because the government refused to have serious consultations on the 2012 budget, the AFC was left out of the discussions relating to the Linden electricity issue and has thereafter refused to participate in discussions because of alleged Government recalcitrance on other matters. No structure to generate trust and confidence existed by the time Amaila came around.
In an effort to convince the Opposition and critics on Amaila, discussions took place with President Ramotar and Minister Ashni Singh. Mr. Winston Brassington and his advisers also had discussions with critics. Documents were handed over. The chief public spokespersons for the government defending the project and answering critics were President Ramotar and Minister Singh, although others, including Mr. Brassington weighed in occasionally. There was no organized public information campaign or effort to supplement, expand and define on a daily basis what they had to say. On the other hand, the Opposition and other critics were in the media every day.