In a two-part series captioned ‘Expectations for the 2011 national elections in Guyana‘ (‘In the Diaspora,’ SN, July 5 and 12, 2010) in which I reviewed the strengths and weaknesses of the three major political parties, the PPP, PNC and AFC, at the time, I wrote: “I believe the governing PPP is likely to be returned with a majority. In my view, whether it will gain an overall majority to allow it to govern on its own or a case of its needing a junior partner will depend on the two major opposition parties.”
Three developments of significance took place subsequently, leading up to the recently concluded elections. A number of the smaller parties and the PNC came together forming the APNU, Mr Trotman replaced Ms Holder as the prime ministerial candidate of the AFC, and later, former PPP stalwart, Mr Moses Nagamootoo, joined the AFC. Consequently, the major opposition parties were strengthened and at the elections they gained control of parliament but left the PPP, as the party with the highest percentage of votes, with the presidency.
In the concluding paragraph of that series I wrote, “This electoral process, for the foreseeable future, is unlikely to provide each ethnic group the security and/or perception of security that is rightfully theirs… Guyana today is no less divided than it was in 1963. Is it not time to have a more inclusive form of government to weather the uncharted waters of the international arena, a government that reflects the unique history of all its people?
Interestingly, Lincoln Lewis, writing in the Stabroek News of December 5, 2011 notes, “Going by Gecom’s publication of the results of the national and regional elections one element that stands out is that the majority of the electorate has leaned heavily for and in favour of the candidate based on their ethnic identity. It is clear that ethnicity remains a major reason for voting in our multi-racial society.“
I believe the voters have now spoken and they are demanding change from the old ways. Unfortunately, the newly elected President and his party do not seem to get the message. President Ramotar must walk the talk to demonstrate his commitment to national unity. His preliminary list of ministers does not give credence to his commitment, and the musings of Dr Prem Misir, communications czar in the office of the former President that “while it [the PPP] may not have full control of Parliament, the President has full veto powers over practically anything presented in Parliament, which may not be in the interest of the nation,” are troubling. With 48% of the votes, the President and his party cannot be considered the sole decider of what is in the national interest.