The Guyana Trades Union Congress (GTUC) is calling on the diplomatic community to work with the Guyanese people “to ensure the freedoms and rights they embrace and enjoy in their respective countries are also embraced and enjoyed here.”
According to the GTUC in a recent press statement, the alliance of the Private Sector Commission and members from the major diplomatic community in pronouncing on the elections and asking all to accept the results, raises justifiable speculation about the role of the diplomats and their upholding of the mission entrusted by their respective countries.
This comes on the heels of a similar call by GECOM and in spite of GECOM’s failure to address the concern of a major contender, APNU, the GTUC noted.
Behind this stated backdrop, GTUC told the diplomatic community that their call for an acceptance of the results cannot and must not be done without first understanding and giving respect to Guyana’s unique cultural characteristics, the pervasive absence of adherence to human rights in the society, its political demographics, and the PPP’s historical quality of governance.
The GTUC said further that “the non-acceptance of the results by some cannot ignore GECOM’s refusal to heed their call for verification of Statements of Poll in light of the information they have shared with the public; the observers stopping short of declaring (the) elections fair, highlighting discrepancies, malpractices and …the unprecedented delay in the declaration.”
“To therefore pronounce that the diplomatic community ‘think that by and large they found the elections were free and fair’ means that we are presently at a serious crossroad,” the GTUC cautioned.
The umbrella trade union body also contended that “in a structure of governance where the executive wields tremendous power to the point where it sometimes disregards parliamentary decisions, and in the absence of mechanism to hold them accountable, an opposition parliamentary majority of one seat is not necessarily a “win-win” situation.”
This scenario, the GTUC observed, is unlike in the U.S. where the executive proposes and the legislature disposes, and elected representatives are held accountable, and opinion polls and other forms of public displeasures are given expression as indicators to change direction or face rejection.
Moreover, the GTUC noted, in the European Union, human rights form the cornerstone for development of programmes within the respective countries and it is also a pre-requisite for external countries accessing grants and loans.
According to the GTUC, “the issue before us is one of governance and the solution cannot be simply addressed on votes cast, nor asking the society to accept the results, since the wellbeing of every member and group are important.”
Therefore, at this juncture attention needs to be given to the call by the Alliance For Change (AFC) for another form of governance, the GTUC said
“The GTUC holds the view that the various calls over the years for inclusive and participatory governance must now be examined by every political and social group with a view of governing so that justice becomes the price for peace. This form of governance is also outlined in Article 13 of the Constitution,” the statement added.
And to this end the GTUC maintained that “it remains skeptical of any call for accepting the results which ignores the concern of a major political player, offers no guarantee for justice, fair play, securing the wellbeing and rights of every citizen on a daily basis, even as prevailing global politics is trending towards inclusionary and participatory democracy where citizens are allowed to utilize the public spheres to air grievances and have them addressed as evident in various occupancy of major cities and business centres.”
Guyana and Guyanese are no less deserving, the GTUC asserted, and therefore the diplomatic community should work with the Guyanese people to ensure that the freedoms and rights they embrace and enjoy in their respective countries are also embraced and enjoyed here.
As citizens of an interconnected global community The GTUC also called attention to the 2011 statement of the leader of the free world, President Barack Obama, who is quoted as saying that: “Real reform does not come through the ballot box alone.
Through our efforts we must support those basic rights to speak your mind and access information… In the 21st century, information is power; the truth cannot be hidden; and the legitimacy of governments will ultimately depend on active and informed citizens. Such open discourse is important even if what is said does not square with our worldview. America respects the right of all peaceful and law-abiding voices to be heard even if we disagree with them… What we will oppose is an attempt by any group to restrict the rights of others, and to hold power through coercion and not consent. Because democracy depends not only on elections, but also strong and accountable institutions, and the respect for the rights of minorities.”