NOW IS THE TIME


The crisis facing Guyana, due to get worse on March 22, when the Government loses its legal authority, was not the result of the actions of evil people. Not Charrandass Persaud for voting for the no confidence motion, not the PPP for encouraging him to do so, not APNU+AFC for seeking to stay in office for as long as possible in defiance of the Constitution. The crisis has emerged from the same culture that caused the PNC to rig elections, the PPP to abandon its pledge in 1992 to implement shared governance and in 2011 to fail to seek a coalition with the Opposition. The main political parties reflect the fears, anxieties and insecurities of the two major ethnic groups, each of which feels that unless it holds political office to the exclusion of the other, the economic and physical security of its supporters will be jeopardised. Each has its own narrative of grievances against the other, recent and historic, and each is as compelling to its owner as the other.

This systemic weakness has bedeviled our political culture since 1955 when the PPP split into two parties and became in 1957 the PPP and the PNC. Ethno-political fears have since remained the most dominant feature of our political system and which undergirds all political developments. If it continues, the major ills of our society such as underdevelopment and continuing poverty, political instability, periodic crises, corruption, emigration of skilled Guyanese, and many others can never be resolved.

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PRESIDENT CARTER, A TRUE FRIEND OF GUYANA, VISITS AGAIN.


When the US Government under President Bush decided in 1990 that it would support free and fair elections in Guyana, it was the Carter Centre that was called upon to act as the midwife for a new era of democracy in Guyana. Even though the Hoyte government’s lifeline of international financial and diplomatic support had been partially severed, the government still resisted the reforms demanded by the then opposition. It required the renowned stature and nuanced diplomatic skills of President Carter to negotiate the necessary concessions that would guarantee free and fair elections. President Carter’s name will remain forever associated with Guyana’s democracy.

President Carter and the Carter Centre remained engaged with Guyana. It established a permanent office, mounted a second full observer mission for the 2001 elections and conducted a focused observation for the 2006 elections. On both occasions it concluded that the elections were free and fair. Even though the opposition has never accepted the credibility of any elections after 1992, the presence of the Carter Centre and other observer missions and their positive conclusions, satisfied the international community. As a result the opposition’s campaigns had little traction outside Guyana. Today we have the ludicrous spectacle of both parties alleging that the 2011 elections were rigged against them.

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