Whoever Wins this Election, All of Guyana Loses: A Call for a Government of National Unity

National flag of Guyana

We write as two Guyanese who have come out of the leadership of both major parties, who have lived through the violence of the 1960s, and who have been following with deep sadness and alarm the news of the outbreak of conflict following a mainly peaceful electoral campaign and voting process in our beloved country. People’s lives have been disrupted in the past week, and a sense of fear and mistrust is rapidly taking over our communities. History teaches us that mistrust can lead to violence, if it is not nipped in the bud. As we have already witnessed, it is the most vulnerable among us who will suffer the most. Irresponsible leadership very rarely gets affected by the disputes they consciously sow. A very dangerous situation is fast approaching.

We add our voice to statements of concern already made, and ask political leaders to come together and issue a joint statement to all of their supporters and all Guyanese, calling for peace and for an end to violence or the threat of violence and intimidation. Further, we call on the two major political leaders and parties to put the interest of Guyana on the table, to surrender their narrow goals, and to use the division of spoils as the basis of an immediate agreement of a joint government, based on the verified results of the 2020 elections. We underline the need for everyone involved in the elections machinery to fully abide by the spirit and direction of the Representation of The People’s Act.

It is fortunate that the international observers are present. This makes it possible for them to evaluate any claims of evidence of illegality in the elections process and to bring these to light. Illegalities in elections must be condemned by umpires.

At the same time, we also condemn all attempts by participants who speak about the rule of law, while they engage in disruptive tactics to enforce their will. All these actions, as well as alleged misconduct by authorized officials, contribute to divisions and chaos in the society.

In such a deeply divided nation, it remains possible for the leaders of the major parties to de-escalate the situation by finding a mutually agreeable solution. This can be done irrespective of the outcome in the courts, irrespective of the final declaration of results by GECOM, irrespective of local, regional and international observers finally signing off on a credible election result. If nothing else, the events of the past week have underlined forcefully that regardless of who wins under this current winner take all system, Guyana as a whole loses.

A seat one way or the other, a margin of victory one way or the other, will not solve this dilemma. We simply cannot continue to kick the can down the road for yet another five years. Postponing the problem will not make it disappear. We cannot continue to accept the reluctance of the two main political parties that have brought us to this point, a reluctance that so far seems totally oblivious to the consequences that have played out in such predictable and devastating ways this past week. The security of the supporters of one major party cannot be premised on the insecurity of the supporters of the other. It is a system that guarantees that most Guyanese, starting with those most vulnerable among us, will always be shut out.

Until the system changes, whoever wins, Guyana loses.

To the leaders of APNU-AFC and the PPP, we ask you to hold your heads high and operate with integrity and humility. We ask that you find the grace to enter without delay into talks to establish a national government based on the principle of parity. Such negotiations would necessarily have to be consistent with the constitution, but it is entirely possible to envision a situation, for example, in which the winner of the 2020 elections takes the presidency but asks their prime ministerial candidate to resign so that someone from the other major party can be appointed; and where a collective cabinet can be appointed. Such a compromise would also give greater latitude to MP’s to vote against the government instead of following the herd, offering greater opportunities for accountability against corruption. This breathing space can be an opportunity to take a collective breath, and importantly provide an opportunity for our political leaders to work together on common issues. We do not anticipate that this will be easy. We call for it because it is precisely under such conditions of extreme political polarisation and mistrust that the hard but urgent and necessary work of healing for nation building is called for.

We do not claim originality in our proposal. The national spirit was evident in the political approach by leaders of both the PNC and PPP in the 1960s, in the face of a threat of lasting ethnic divisions. Following the breakdown of constitutional talks in London in the early 1960s, the leader of the PNC responded to the suggestion proposed by the United Nations anti-colonial committee for a PPP-PNC coalition to resolve the conflict, indicating that he would only agree on the condition of parity. It was a position that was not initially favoured by the PPP but members would later agree, with no less than the leader of the PPP becoming one of the foremost advocates of this position. This window of opportunity did not materialise, and over fifty years later we continue to experience the effects of that failure. No less of a visionary approach is demanded in the current situation, so much more dangerous and threatening to our beloved Guyana.

Copyright © AAIHS. May not be reprinted without permission.

Moses Bhagwan and Eusi Kwayana

Moses Bhagwan is a member of the Working People’s Alliance (WPA). Eusi Kwayana is a political activist and member of the Working People’s Alliance (WPA).

Comments on “Whoever Wins this Election, All of Guyana Loses: A Call for a Government of National Unity

  • I was born in Guyana. I was 4 years when the “civil war” took place. I lived in West Rumveldt

    My father I was African ( Ghana) and our next door neighbor was Indian. These two men were the best of friends.

    I remember the time both men locked their wife and children up in their homes. Then, with machetes in hand, proceeded, together, to the Two-Pole to fight of the then unknown enemy. My father, Mr. Wilson and his buddy, Mr. Gombes, were prepared to fight to the death. As a small child I remember the fear I experienced during that time.

    My family subsequently moved to America. Eight years post arrival to the Stated I saw a news documentary on PBS channel 13 titled: The CIA In Georgetown. I was stunned by what was in the documentary.

    Here is a summary of that show:
    1. Burnam and Jagon both moved on
    the same circles in America. They
    dated same/ similar women
    2. Javan appeared on Meet The
    Press and was asked questions
    about his perspective, as a Black
    man, on the Civil Rights
    movement. This all took place
    During the McCarty period.
    America was virulently anti
    communist. Every Black
    Intellectual was suspect. Jagon
    Was categorized as a a Black
    Intellectual
    3. Jagon met and fell for a white
    Jewish woman from the
    Michigan area of the US. She
    was a member of the
    communist party. This was the
    Cold War era in America;
    known communists were black
    Listed. The government
    followed your every move
    4. Jagon, active in the civil rights
    movement at the time, and
    keeping company with Janet
    became an instant subject of
    Interest to the FBI.
    5. Janet, who became his wife
    Was expelled from America
    She could never return and
    never did
    6. Upon his return to Guyana
    Jagon did not realize that
    He and his new wife were
    Being targeted by the
    American government.
    7. Jagon and Burnham re-
    turned to Guyana as
    young and idealistically.
    8. Trouble for Guyana, Jagon
    and Burnham began when
    The two men announced
    Their Political ambitions.
    9. American and Mr. Kennedy
    Were not going to tolerate
    Communism close to its
    shores. America recognized
    Janet’s influence over
    Cheddy and so proceeded
    To split the alliance between
    The decades long friendship
    Between the two men
    10. These two friends
    returned to Guyana to fight
    For independence from
    Great Britain. The part they
    Formed was for
    independence
    11. Bay of Pigs ruled. Kennedy
    In his fight against the
    USSR, needed a tactic that
    would guarantee another
    Russian satellite would not
    be birthed in America’s
    backyard.
    12. The tactic: Divide and Rule
    Machiavellian Law. It
    works. If you have any
    doubt just look at what’s
    happening in Guyana
    right now.
    13. Machiavelli espoused
    pitting one group against
    another by exploiting
    known facts. Similar to
    what Russia is doing to
    America presently
    14. Guyanese people, 99.9%
    of whom are black in
    complexion Were pitted
    against each other: Indian
    against people of African
    descendants all because
    Janet Jagon, a Jewish
    American woman
    15. The CIA broke up the
    alliance between the
    friends using faithful baits:
    promise of absolute power
    and money
    16. So here we are in 2020
    readying ourselves for
    a fight for nothing that
    benefits the mighty.
    17. Your fight is foolishness
    The war, you’ve
    unknowingly Conscripted
    to fight, is for oil
    dominance None of you
    own any shares in these
    titians of oil production
    All you all are is collateral
    damage. Like fleas on a
    dog: you will be dwelt
    With and the dog will
    be free of you. He will
    Go about living and
    having fun and if you
    are not dead you will
    live the rest of your life
    paying for the dog’s
    fun
    I’m trying to get a copy of this video
    I want every Guyanese to view it and digest it for your sake and the country’s sake.

    Go to school study history; improve the country; create some new technology. Do something other than hate your fellow human.

    Change the evil climate. Here’s the. sad truth: both Africa and India have moved on without any of us in thought.

    Reply

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