The current tension between the Working People’s Alliance (WPA) and the ruling APNU+AFC Government is symptomatic of a much deeper conflict. Philosophically, the WPA has very little, if anything, in common with the PNC which is the dominant partner in the coalition government. The only thing in common between the two parties was a desire to see the PPP/C out of government and now that that objective has been achieved, the WPA has found itself in an awkward situation in which it has to countenance some of the very things of which it was critical of the PPP when in office.
In actual fact, the political DNA of the WPA is more closely aligned to that of the PPP. Both parties were part of the anti-dictatorial struggle during the pre-1992 period and they both shared a strong pro-working class and anti-imperialist posture. Indeed, the PPP had a close working relationship with the leadership of the WPA and shared numerous political platforms with the WPA.
Regrettably, the WPA opted to go its separate way during the run-up to the October 1992 general and regional elections mainly due to tactical and strategic differences on the issue of the presidential candidate and the composition of the new Cabinet should the PNC be defeated in the then impending elections. As it turned out, the PPP forged an alliance with a Civic component and went on to win the elections of October 1992, the first democratic elections in twenty-four years.
The mistake made by the WPA during that period was its inability to accurately define the mood of the people and the strong support the PPP enjoyed among the working class across the political and ethnic divide. Further, the correlation of forces both locally and internationally had changed dramatically following the collapse of the Soviet Union which gave fresh impetus to the anti-dictatorial struggles not only in Guyana but in several other parts of the world.
It will be interesting to see how the resignation of Dr Rupert Roopnaraine from the Cabinet will play out, but one thing seems certain and that is the strained relationship between the two is unlikely to be mended any time soon, if at all.
For its part, the WPA needs to do some serious introspection and try to re-discover itself and the role it is currently playing in the body politic.
My own view is that it is not too late for that party to re-align itself with the democratic forces and in the process give meaning and relevance to the vision of its founding leaders of which Dr Roopnaraine was a key player.