Guyana’s political problems can only be solved by Guyanese on give-and-take basis

Dear Editor,

I write in relation to the article ‘Gov’t says “under threat“ – seeks international support‘ (Stabroek News, December 12). However, before offering my comments, I wish to draw attention to a couple of my earlier pieces to the press in Guyana.

In a two-part series captioned ‘Expectations for the 2011 national elections in Guyana‘ (In the Diaspora, SN, July 5 and 12, 2010), I concluded by stating, “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?”

Subsequently, after the elections, in a letter captioned ‘The President and his party cannot be considered the sole decider of what is in the national interest’ (SN, December 7, 2011), I wrote, “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.”

Over the last year, the government has been sending mixed messages to the opposition. One cannot demonize an opponent while at the same time expect cooperation. To cite one example, earlier this year just prior to tabling the Supplementary Estimates for approval, the Finance Minister went on a tirade against the main opposition critic while the President did the same against the Leader of the Minority. Was it any surprise then that the Supplementary Estimates were not approved as presented?

It is apparent that since the November 2011 elections, the government and the governing party have been in denial and have not recognized the reality of the political situation. The PPP’s response to Mr Ralph Ramkarran’s recent honest, objective and thorough critique is telling. In addition to being the President of Guyana, Mr Ramotar also holds the position of General Secretary of the party. As such, one has to conclude that he concurs with the party’s response and a change in direction of the party or the government is unlikely.

I wonder if the government has given adequate thought to the implication of calling on international support. Is the government conceding that it is incapable of governing or maintaining law and order? Ultimately, Guyana’s political problems can only be solved by Guyanese and the solution must be based on ‘give and take’ negotiations. The President should realize that through necessity (his party having a minority in the National Assembly), he has an opportunity to change the course of Guyana’s history and stamp his legacy on the nation. He can be the first President to heal the racial divide through a more inclusive approach to government. He, and not his advisers or party, will be judged by history. He needs a new approach to work with the opposition parties.

Yours faithfully,
Harry Hergash

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