President Ramotar’s accusation that the opposition political parties were involved in rigging the November 2011 elections was a precursor for what occurred in parliament on Thursday, February 16, and has to be seen as a calculated tactic by the government to hold the society hostage. In fact he has been playing to the gallery of his supporters, indicating that the opposition stole the election and will use its parliamentary majority to prevent the PPP from governing. The PPP has now embarked on a blitz to portray itself as the victim, saying to this society ‘you see what has happened, they stole the elections and now they want to stop us from doing anything in parliament,’ when the real victims are the citizens whose resources they have misused over the years and have refused to correct their violations.
Being made aware of what happened in parliament and the subsequent statements of Prime Minister Samuel Hinds, Political Adviser Gail Teixeira and Finance Minister Ashni Singh, are enough to raise the citizens’ ire. It is appalling to observe the shifting of a legitimate issue and the shenanigans of the trio to hide the PPP’s failure for providing the House with the evidence to justify spending the people’s money, yet at the same time expect the opposition to cooperate with the violations.
A government is elected to manage the people’s business, and any business conducted on behalf of the state, by any person, must be accounted for. In this specific case where the opposition has questioned the legality and transparency of the Minister’s conduct, the onus is on the Minister to provide evidence to prove that what he has done is right. A refusal to do so will raise serious questions as to the legality of the use of the people’s money. Singh’s position of soliciting “cooperation” in this instance is in effect saying that it must be ‘we and them,’ which is the politicians ganging up against the citizens even when the law is on the citizens’ side. Be reminded, the intent of law is to protect the weak from being trampled upon by the strong, mighty and privileged, and in this case the citizens are not the privileged, it is those we have sent to parliament to represent our interests.
This nation is being taken down a very dangerous path whereby the Finance Minister and the PPP seem to believe that cooperating in the breaking of the law must be a precondition to continue the tripartite discussions. While there is no legal basis for these discussions, it can either build trust among the parties or stymie the process of governance to properly serve the citizens, and it is very important at this juncture that the opposition be reminded that their authority and responsibility are vested in the parliament, and this is the forum that must be used. To do otherwise is to stymie the business of the people and create political wrangling as to what ought to be discussed and was agreed upon behind closed doors.
The derogatory statements made by Ms Teixeira, et al, in response to the just demands of the opposition, are unfortunate. The people have voted for the PPP to lead the executive and the opposition to lead the parliament and certain behaviours are expected of both the government and opposition. The parliament of this country has the responsibility of developing and approving programmes based on the vision of the citizens, and the executive has the responsibility to carry out these programmes within the parameters of the law. The APNU and the AFC have no legal standing in carrying out the executive’s duties. It is the responsibility of the PPP to discharge same, unhindered, within the parameters of the law.
The tripartite talks have created the alibi for the executive to blame the opposition for preventing them from carrying out their responsibility and using what happened over the last days as a threat to discontinue them. Clearly, the executive is saying to the opposition that a precondition for continued discussions is agreement with their violations.
We all need to be alert to what is happening around us. The time has come for citizens to be vigilant and hold the PPP, AFC and APNU accountable for their actions within the sphere of their given responsibility and on behalf of the people.