(Hoping to keep today’s offering to relative concise snippet-like size and length.)
After Forbes Burnham engineered a coalition with business tycoon D’Aguiar’s United Force and formed the ‘64-‘68 government, Cheddi Jagan could have been excused for being bitter. His People’s Progressive Party had won the highest percentage of votes in the December 1964 general election (46%) but Burnham “merged” with the UF (41% plus 12%) to imitate our version of “coalition politics” and quite legal power-grabbing. Burnham was made Premier on 14th December 1964 after which BG became independent Guyana in May 1966.
Electoral Engineering – sometimes known as rigging – dogged Burnham’s elections from 1968 through 1985. Poor Patriotic Socialist Cheddi – for most of his opposition years – 28 of them – pledged to Oppose, Expose and hopefully to Depose Burnham’s People’s National Congress government (1968-1980). Oppose and expose Jagan did but could not depose Burnham’s wily political manipulation, electoral engineering skills and vice-like grip on governmental power. It took America, Britain and Canada (ABC) and Jimmy Carter to facilitate the ’92 election that terminated the PNC domination.
Today’s version of O-E-D
I understand the British idea of election and governance accommodated the concept of a loyal opposition wherein a constructive opposition could be actually considered as a component of the government. After all it was argued, opposition members were also elected to represent the interests of thousands. Some governments are sometimes very slim “majorities”.
Not so in those colonies who now comprise proud independent nations of the Commonwealth. Full power, absolute control is the aim of politicians and parties once office is assumed. Opposition parties and their surrogate groups who had to demit office yearn, strive and fight relentlessly to regain control; “on behalf of the people”. Huh?
Opposing and exposing the APNU-AFC missteps, deficiencies and outright blunders is now sweet science for Dr. Jagdeo’s PPP as they are ably assisted by the government itself and the PNC who, numerous commentators and analysts conclude, seem to be “the source of their own failure.”
But Frankly Speaking, today’s PPP opposition cannot claim any moral high ground to criticize, given its own suspect record during 23 years in office. Of course it has the political and constitutional rights to oppose-hopefully constructively. As an old political watcher I actually “admire” how Dr. Jagdeo – subtly or overtly – plays his tribal cards even when pointing out APNU-AFC shortcoming and sometimes discriminatory behaviour. The opposition knows from experience, what to look for. The spirit of Cheddi’s “exposures” is a little misplaced as the Brigadier-President’s people are not yet characterised by Burnham’s authoritarian instincts. Even though signs are slowly appearing.
Deposing the APNU-AFC? That’s another story best left to elections. Elections?
Three years to jubilee elections
Fast-forward your minds to August-September 2020.
President Granger would have concluded (?) his second National Jubilee Celebration-50 years of republicanism in February 2020. Elections will be held sometimes after that February. Will Exxon-Mobil Guyana oil be flowing as has been promised? By the end of 2020 what government will be “allowed” to govern the people and the oil? Discuss…
The PNC at 60 (Pt 1)
Many politically-minded observers, students of local politics, die-hard party loyalists, President Granger and (even) me will be offering comments as the People’s National Congress- the PNC- gears up to celebrate the 60th anniversary of its founding next month.
This is merely my own preliminary opening salvo of more to come. For better or worse it is an historical and current fact that the PNC is a local political institution. Even though in between elections political parties seem submerged by governments and management of economy and people and none can discuss “PNC” without mighty consideration of “Burnham”.
This now by way of summary – especially for the interested youth: Burnham was (firstly) a top member of Cheddi Jagan’s PPP. In fact, the still-alive stalwart, the Bengal Tiger Ashton Chase deferred to the bright returning Burnham and encouraged Cheddi to make Burnham the PPP Chairman! I grew old enough to read a whole book of robust anti-Burnham sentiments authored by a contrite Chase in the aftermath of Burnham’s governance. Wonder what Mr. Chase thinks of his “Chairmanship decision” these days?
The original PPP was split asunder in 1995. BG experienced then the PPP-Jaganite and a PPP-Burnhamite. This summary dares not attempt to discuss reasons for the splits in the 1953 PPP mass movement. Others will revive all that. Burnham created the People’s National Congress (PNC) in October 1957 after being defeated by Cheddi’s PPP in August.
Read now a summarized version of how Cheddi Jagan saw the birth of the PNC: “The Opposition however was strengthened outside the legislature. Soon after the 1957 general election Burnham joined with the United Democratic Party (UDP) to form the People’s National Congress. Sydney King also joined and became the PNC General Secretary. He (King) brought to the new party the African farmers and workers who supported him on the East Coast of Demerara and thus helped to polarize party politics along racial lines”.
Burnham, Green, Bissember, Reid, John, Ramsaroop, Ramphal, Shahabuddeen, Jeffrey, Corbin, Hoyte, – just a few PNC contributors to their institution. But what has it become at 60? Much, much more to come…
Irma, Guyanese, an electric world
Now for snippets from Hurricane Irma and its aftermath. Note Prime Minister Nagamootoo’s assurance that affected overseas Guyanese can access government’s assistance. (Next time I’ll wonder about Article 31 and what is meant by “It is the duty of the State to protect the just rights and interests of citizens resident abroad.” Dual citizens?
The concerns about millions in Florida without “power” raise the issue- what an “electric world”
So will government assist Guyana-born victims in Florida? Sint Martin? Antigua?
Who are our forecasters and weather specialists on hurricanes?
Simple but profound thought from ACDA: “Social cohesion must include economic inclusion!”
Who assisted the foreign (?) escapees from the illegal aircraft at Santa Fe, Rupununi when they ran into some community?
Til next week