People should vote for minor parties and independent candidates

Dear Editor,

Voters should consider voting for the minor parties and independent candidates as the three major parties (PPP, PNC, AFC) have failed the nation. Although I live in the US and the major parties dominate politics at the national, state, local and sub-local levels, it is my philosophical position (and that of many Guyanese I converse with) that the major parties have no business in local politics in Guyana. Once the major parties decide to enter into the electoral fray, the racial and political division of the last 65 years will continue. Also, in countries like Guyana that do not have a long history of democratic governance, it is not proper for the party controlling central power to also control local power as it will allow for abuses of authority giving rise to tendencies of authoritarianism and/or leadership arrogance as well as the corruption we experienced between 1966 and 2015. I believe state power must be distributive, shared among the different communities and diverse populations. Power must not be concentrated in Region 4 or in Georgetown or in the hands of APNU+AFC or the PPP when it was in charge of the state. And power should not be exercised by the REO of a region, who is appointed by the party in power. Those elected at the local level should run their own affairs as we do in the US. The REO or an appointee from the central government should not have veto power over local decisions.

In the local elections, voters should take measures to distribute power away from those controlling the central government. On this issue, I join Nigel Hughes, Ravi Dev, Vishnu Bandhu, Freddie Kissoon and others in the call for voters to cast ballots for local organizations and independent candidates and not the major parties.

Local elections are about local issues. The people in the communities and local leaders know what is best for them. They know the issues. Therefore, power should be exercised by local grass roots folks at the local level. Representatives should not be imposed upon them. And the national leaders should not direct people at the local level about what to do. The government can offer technical advice and experts can make suggestions. But the national government should not get involved in the running the affairs of the local communities. Give the people the freedom and the resources to run their own affairs.

The people must choose the candidate as in the US and Canada through a democratic process. In the US, a primary election chooses the party’s nominee. In Guyana, the party machine or leader, through some closed door back room deal, chooses the candidate. That is wrong.

People should nominate and vote for those who they know and who have a track record of doing things to improve life in their communities. The three parties and the AFC have destroyed local democracy and are seeking hegemonic control over the nation. Voters must not give them that power or else Guyana will be further damaged. Redistribute and redirect power away from the centre and the dominant parties and towards local politicians.

Yours faithfully,

Vishnu Bisram

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