By Govind Hinds
The winner of Guyana’s March 2nd election is yet to be declared, even after the recount process was concluded and the preliminary results published. While many were hoping that yesterday might have brought closure, they were greeted with another legal injunction filed to block the use of the recount results. The court will be asked to consider allegations that significant evidence of electoral fraud was discovered during the recount process.
Guyana is exactly where the savvy political pundits predicted it would end up in its broken winner take all political contest. On one side is the opposition PPP led by Bharat Jagdeo and his designated Presidential candidate, Irfaan Ali, who has the public support of the ABCE countries and Caricom with public statements from Mia Mottley and Ralph Gonsalves. On the other side, President Granger with his team of ex-military officers supported by a vocal and impatient base that feel there is a conspiracy afoot to cheat them of victory and condemn Afro Guyanese to another decade of economic injustice. Politics is the game of power and APNU knows it has the advantage through its support from the army, police and civil service.
What is clear is that the two main parties have very different views of reality and what is right for the nation. The opposition PPP’s view is that an election was held, the recount confirmed they won, they expect the results to be respected and would like to take office. The incumbent APNU’s view is that the recount process confirmed their suspicion that the voter list was compromised with thousands of invalid dead and overseas voters and evidenced by the unusual increase in ballots and implied voter turnout.
APNU’s position is that it does not intend to leave office, since they believe the election was rigged through the voter list. They have offered their final numbers adjusted for the anomalies discovered which gives them a two seat victory.
Knowing that their adjusted numbers would be vigorously challenged, many in the APNU camp would like the election to be invalidated and a new election held once the voter list has been updated and invalid voters removed. Is this a genuine effort to fix a broken democracy rigged by the corrupt opposition ? Or is this a shameless grab for power that will plunge the nation into political and economic uncertainty? Democracies are open to manipulation and inflated voter lists provide regimes an elegant way of guaranteeing political outcomes as exemplified in places like Russia.
We are in the year of great change with worldwide geopolitical and economic shifts that will see privacy and other rights eroded for the greater good and safety of society. As one colleague remarked, “it’s a great time to be a dictator” and there are many who believe that Guyana needs a benevolent dictator.
For APNU supporters, their man is President Granger whose health and age profile naturally limits his tenure. For PPP supporters, their man is former President Jagdeo who they believe should be allowed to serve further terms or at least allowed to guide and mentor his designated candidate. For the rest looking for more progressive leadership, two new leaders have emerged to give us hope for the future: Lenox Shuman and Timothy Jonas, who will share a hard won seat through their innovative political alliance.
Guyana needs new leaders with a progressive, inclusive, post race mindset committed to building and preserving its democratic institutions that guarantee a government of the people, by the people, for the people. Democratic institutions are always under attack and must be fixed when corrupted. A corrupted voters list is just as bad as a dictator who ignores the will of the people. We continue to watch, hope and pray for the best outcome for the people of Guyana.
(Toronto-based Govind Hinds is a close observer of the political situation in Guyana.)