The laugh is on the Ramotar administration

Dear Editor,

In what has to be deemed the biggest political joke of the year in Guyana, the Donald Ramotar regime issued a statement appealing to regional and international bodies for support, saying Guyana is “under threat” as a result of the opposition’s parliamentary control.

The only problem with this joke is that the laugh is on the Ramotar administration, because every Guyanese knows that Guyana is literally under threat as a result of the administration’s refusal to allow the parliamentary opposition to restore some semblance of accountability, transparency and responsibility in government.

Still, we have to at least give the Ramotar administration credit for stealing the parliamentary opposition’s thunder by playing to the international gallery that government is under threat. This then means that the gauntlet has been thrown down by the administration and the parliamentary opposition must provide an appropriate response without hesitation.

The parliamentary opposition must inform foreign governments and international bodies of the myriad cases reported in the media of an out-of-control, politically and criminally compromised police force,  and of a government stubbornly refusing to do anything about theft of state finances by contractors for no-show and or deliberately poor quality jobs and misuse of state assets.

Foreign governments and international bodies must be told that ever since the PPP lost its parliamentary majority on November 28, 2011, it has been extremely uncomfortable with efforts by the new combined parliamentary opposition to play a meaningful role in the governance of the country. Democracy in Guyana is under threat from the communist-oriented PPP.

The question the parliamentary opposition and all Guyanese have to ask themselves, meanwhile, is whether the Ramotar administration is appealing to international bodies or to Indian Guyanese at home to prepare for snap elections.  For example, PPP operative, Ms Bibi Shadick went into West Coast Berbice, last April, and told PPP supporters to get ready for snap elections that could happen at a moment’s notice. If not for purely racial pandering reasons, why didn’t she do the same thing in Georgetown or Linden? And she certainly couldn’t have said that without the President’s knowledge.

If it is to international bodies, then the appeal will not find favour with countries and institutions that support accountability, transparency and responsibility in democratic governments. In fact, this group of countries and institutions usually relies on Transparency International for information on other nations before deciding on doing any sort of business, and with Guyana recently receiving the worst corruption ranking among Caricom nations, these members of the international community will never take the Ramotar administration’s fears seriously.

If the appeal is subtly intended for Indian Guyanese to get ready for snap elections so the PPP can regain a parliamentary majority and resume its full-fledged corrupt ways without a parliamentary opposition to perform checks and balances, then the regime is taking a huge gamble with its hold on minority government status.

As a matter of fact, the ruling party and its government gambled when they allowed one year to pass and the parliamentary opposition, but especially the AFC, was able to emerge as aggressively pursuing the government over acts of corruption perpetrated during the Bharrat Jagdeo era. The PPP could not level accusations against the AFC the way it could have against the PNC or APNU to fan the flames of ethnic insecurity, because the AFC is led by Mr Khemraj Ramjattan, with great support from Mr Moses Nagamootoo. And Indian Guyanese who became apathetic towards the PPP because of Mr Jagdeo’s excesses have not detected any change since President Ramotar was sworn in.

If anything, the Ramotar administration has by default defended corruption by refusing to frontally address it, and Indian Guyanese voters may well be both aware and angry at this, so that any snap election call could see the PPP’s support base suffering further erosion. And the more bad news there is about the government – like the near insolvency of NIS – every day in the media, the more Guyanese are likely to take a dimmer view of the PPP.

President Ramotar, for his part, continues to come across as someone who is just along for the ride. And this statement recently released to the international community should be an embarrassment to him as an elected leader who fails to demonstrate true leadership, opting instead for speeches, interviews, group-thinking and decision-making that cause him to become lost in the crowd instead of standing out in the crowd. Which Commonwealth or Caricom government ever released such an appeal to the international community?

The President has already wasted one year doing absolutely nothing productive for Guyana, and if he really wants to make a difference instead of wasting another year, he should call for a meeting of the leaders of APNU, AFC and the major stakeholders to hammer out a way forward. Set some specific goals. Identify some specific methods. Set a deadline for achieving the goals. Show some guts as a leader and stop hiding among the political herd that seem to think they are all leaders.

In light of all that Guyanese now know about the inept, corrupt, lawless, vindictive and dictatorial PPP regime, any snap elections will be seen as an admission of failure by President Ramotar to provide astute leadership based on the ability to negotiate and compromise. We already know he lacks tested and proven leadership experience, but we dare him to throw in the towel and admit he cannot lead without opposition!

Yours faithfully,
Emile Mervin

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