APNU/PNC came second in the elections. It got about 26,000 votes less than the PPP. APNU says there were shenanigans in the electoral process. It is protesting for clarification. Let me state unequivocally that APNU has a constitutional and democratic right to protest. Those who blithely condemn APNU must remember that protest was the backbone of many critical developments in this country whether they were protests from the suffering working class during the Critchlow years, combined PPP and PNC protests against colonialism, PPP protests against the PNC regime and the protests of many against the past 19 years of PPP rule. Many who now condemn APNU now and that includes some from a politically insensitive or ethnically motivated paradigm must not forget the heroic PPP protests during the days of PNC rule.
However, the right to protest and the right protest are two different things. While APNU’s protest will not change the outcome of the elections, APNU’s protest may be valid from the perspective of exposing possible electoral mistake and fraud, which is important for our democracy and which allows us to perfect the electoral protest. In my humble opinion, while
APNU has the right to protest, this is not the right protest. APNU is already reportedly taking the legal route to question Gecom and to get its verification. APNU along with the AFC can pass laws to fix the electoral system and Gecom, a move that will get the full backing of the entire electorate given what Gecom unleashed upon us for three days.
So, APNU should not be in the streets and most definitely no longer in the streets. APNU’s excellent work in cleansing the PNC image, reviving the party’s lethargic-in-2006 African base and in capturing crossover ethnic voters comprised of Mixed Races, Amerindians and a small but vital percentage of Indians can be dashed with this lingering unrest in the streets.
Crossover voters may depart and they usually are the first to leave. We all know that in 2006, the PNC lost all crossover votes and became an almost African-only party in terms of support. Moderate African voters who stayed away from Corbin’s more hardline version of the PNC in 2006 may be tempted to do likewise. Apathy which has been problematic for African voters may return with a vengeance if there appears to be a fixation on issues past while issues present are being overlooked. APNU’s carefully cultivated moderate image may be sabotaged by this public imagery of street milling and posturing.
This desire to stay in the streets does not correlate with APNU’s shared governance philosophy and all its talk about cooperative governance.
APNU made studious efforts to distinguish itself from the PNC during the elections. Street protests will increasingly make that distinction harder to appreciate. Given that street protest of a prolonged nature is classic PNC tactics, one has to wonder who is calling the shots for APNU – is it Granger and Roopnaraine or Corbin, Greenidge, Greene and the others in the PNC fold? Image is everything. APNU managed to clean up its act and present a political maturity during the campaign which many respected. APNU’s standing as kingmaker in Parliament requires responsibility. Continued street protests are not responsibility. I think the original point was made in the street protests in the days after elections. Any continuation has no gain and produces serious loss of future political capital. APNU got a break in this election to break this cycle of corruption and racial cleavage. It cannot return to its old habits and expect public respect. It is bleeding public respectability by the day. The PPP has already started the psychological warfare on Indians by asserting that if Indians had not voted their conscience for the AFC and instead voted out of loyalty for the PPP, APNU would have never been here. Continued street occupation will reinforce that message and could cause some Guyanese to return to the PPP fold out of fear. This will return APNU to toothless opposition sleeping away in Parliament. APNU’s role is no longer powerless opposition. It has power. With power comes great responsibility.