APNU will not succeed in its efforts to reverse the results of the recount; and shared governance will not be achieved by the light touch of a Madame Chancellor/President or on the rubble of burnt out ballot boxes. The most recent case in the Court of Appeal or any other case that may be later filed, such as an election petition, will not overturn the results of the elections. The reason is because the elections were free, fair and credible, as they have all been since 1992, notwithstanding the allegations that have been made by the loser, or anyone else, after every election. There was an audit of the 1997 elections as part of the Herdmanston Accord, supervised by Justice Ulric Cross of Trinidad and Tobago. He found no fraud. The challenge to the validity of thousands of votes in the Esther Perreira case, shortly after the audit was rejected. An audit, as described by the Caricom Team in its Report, was again conducted, this time on the 2020 elections, and the results did not sustain the allegations of fraud.
APNU won two seats less than a majority and just under 50 percent of the votes, significantly more than its usual 40-42 percent. The AFC would clearly have contributed significantly to the increased support. The results prove that the AFC’s still significant core support aided APNU+AFC in limiting the PPP/C’s victory to one seat. This is nothing to be ashamed about. If the PPP/C fails in Government and the APNU+AFC engage in creative political innovations, they may be able to return to office soon, though their current antics, which are creating fear and despondency among their supporters, are not likely to win them friends. Victimology is a dead end. APNU+AFC needs to abandon the course of driving fear, despondency and false hopes into its supporters and should gear up to provide a vigorous, creative, forward looking opposition which will defend the interests of the people and hold the Government to account. More inclusive governance will aid, not hinder, this posture.
APNU+AFC and the PPP/C have rejected executive power sharing and seemed to be satisfied with the ill-defined ‘inclusive governance.’ The Constitution Reform Commission of 1999-2000 had to be satisfied with recommending measures for inclusive governance since the main parties did not support executive shared governance. These were constitutional commissions to expand the involvement of civil society in governance; and sectoral parliamentary committees to expand parliament’s capacity to enhance government’s accountability. These set the stage for the process of inclusive governance, but these initiatives were insufficient and not genuinely embraced. Hostility, suspicion and tension between Government and Opposition are as high as ever.
The Constitution Reform Commission also recommended the enactment of Article 13 of the Constitution to lay the foundation for the political parties to engage further and for the people of Guyana to apply pressure for advancement in the system of governance. Article 13 states: “The principal objective of the political system of the State is to establish an inclusionary democracy by providing increasing opportunities for the participation of citizens and their organisations in the management and decision-making processes of the State, with particular emphasis on those areas of decision-making that directly affect their well-being.” Over the past twenty years, initiatives under Article 13 have not been invoked by any Government. However, if it is inclusive governance that the parties are interested in, this article of the Constitution provides the basis for engagement to develop the structures and methodologies, which was its intention, but which has been abandoned to the dynamics of ethno-political dominance. Article 13, as Lincoln Lewis has been tirelessly advocating, offers a way to advance our political process and reduce the tension in our society. APNU+AFC should hold the PPP/C to its promise. Its decades of implacable hostility to the PPP has got it no more than a blip in office. It’s time for a new course.
As soon as APNU+AFC goes into opposition, speculation on the retirement of President Granger and a new leader will begin. The obvious contenders are Joe Harmon, Basil Williams and Volda Lawrence. Others such as Aubrey Norton are waiting in the wings. Both David Granger and Robert Corbin will play important roles in determining who eventually takes over. Granger silent support of Harmon was not sufficient to have him elected as Chairman recently. Volda Lawrence, with the support of Corbin, defeated Harmon, whose military backrground, it was said, hindered him. These two remain the top contenders while Basil Williams has stayed out of the fray, quietly building his credentials as Attorney General and hoping that while others cancel themselves in warfare, he will slip through.
There are other possibilities which the PNC might not have considered. There continues to be speculation about Raphael Trotman’s future. His association with the AFC appears to have cooled and observers have noted that he is ambitious, having once challenged Desmond Hoyte for the leadership of the PNC. While the PNC might not yet have forgiven him for abandoning the party and helping to launch the AFC, he would obtain broad public support. If his name emerges as a possibility, the AFC should allow him to transition to the PNC with its support.