Let us choose the objective of a national unity government and not nasty, deliberate provocations

Dear Editor,

The horrible, horrible assassination of political activist Mr Courtney Crum-Ewing is the most sickening act in modern times. There is no getting around the fact that the recent speeches at Babu John and the vicious assassination of Crum-Ewing are provocations born out of panic, electoral panic. Babu John in all is bluster and bravado and racial overtones and undertones representing panic on the part of the ruling PPP. This is why former President Bharrat Jagdeo, just out of a lengthy wealth-driven hibernation, uttered those indefensible racist remarks at Babu John. We are in the season of provocation. And more will follow from the ruling party and government. This is not surprising.

These are the people who always wanted ‘winner take all.’ These are the people who invented the fictive sham known as the “Civic” as a palliative because they never wanted to deal with authentic power-sharing.

This is indicative in the manner and form of the retention of Elisabeth Harper as prime ministerial candidate (and the long, long reign of Prime Minister Samuel Hinds before her) as a palatable face of a discredited regime. It emphasizes the ritualistic and tactical nature of the Civic: all who enter are intended to serve without question a dominant brand of hegemony known as the PPP.

My own research indicates that in Guyana’s colonial and post-independence history there were approximately 90 named or known political parties from 1900 through to the recent announcement of the Independent Party led by social activist Mark Benschop. During this lengthy interregnum only a few of these political organisations or parties made any significant impact on the local political scene. If we use the measuring standards of relative longevity, legislative accomplishment and moral influence then the list of ninety can be drastically shortened to these that engaged the society at some level of impact. Among these the most significant have been the Popular Party led by ARF Webber in the 1920s, the PPP, PNC, UDP, UF, WPA, GGG, and AFC. This list is not complete, there have been others who etched a seat here and there in the colonial period. As we all know, two of these, the PPP and PNC, have dwarfed the political landscape from their emergence in the 1950s. One of the main reasons the overwhelming majority of political organisations have never found a foothold has been the factor of race. During the period of PNC and PPP dominance national unity and democratic governance have eluded Guyana. The PNC has moved forward (even if haltingly at times) as a political party in both word and deed. Not so the PPP. It has been crustacean to the core in terms of its attitude to race relations, constitutional change and power. And it has not shifted one iota in its desire for all the power. Since its accession to government in 1992 the PPP has retained an arrogance that in modern times has made the country an embarrassment on the local and world stage.

David Granger was accurate in stating that the APNU+AFC coalition that emerged from the Cummingsburg Accord is the best political development for the last 60 years. The Accord is by no means the first attempt to forge alliance or coalition politics and consensus in the country, but the frail state of the country and society makes this latest initiative one of the most important.

The APNU+AFC coalition arising out of the Cummingsburg Accord has shown maturity, give and take, magnanimity and purpose – all values which can make Guyana a better place – concurrent with the stated objective to establish a government of national unity (and reconstruction) with guarantees of the imperative of constitutional change at the core of a national unity government. Let us choose the latter against these nasty, deliberate provocations.


Yours faithfully,
Nigel Westmaas

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