When Robert Corbin and the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) lose the 2011 General Election, I hope that Corbin and the supporters of that party do not try to deflect or even blame their loss on the supporters of the ruling party.
It is becoming clearer with each passing day that the problems of the PNCR are self-inflicted.
The party’s leadership is undermining itself and thus should take full responsibility when it is humiliatingly defeated again at the polls.
The party in fact is paving the way for its defeat. The latest manifestation of this is the thoughtless comments comparing the situation in Honduras to Guyana.
The situation in Honduras in fact afforded the PNCR an ideal opportunity to demonstrate to the Guyanese people and the international community that it embraces a new politics, that it is firmly committed to regime change through constitutional means and that it abhors the principle of military coups.
The PNCR’s leadership may very well be committed to these things.
But instead of joining the worldwide condemnation of the coup in that country, the party instead sounds a warning to Guyanese about the conditions that it believes gave rise to that coup and the similarity of those conditions to what exists in Guyana.
There is in reality no such similarity and his claim about constitutional and other violations are figments to anti-Zelaya propaganda.
The coup in Honduras was triggered by the fears of the oligarchs and their friends in Washington over the economic and political direction of the Zelaya administration. I am sure that had Zelaya not been supported by the Hugo Chavez administration, had it been as pliable as the oligarchs would have wanted, there would not have been a coup.
The proposal for a referendum to reconsider the question of term limits was not unconstitutional.
Most constitutions in the western hemisphere provide for this sort of mandate by the people before changes are made to the constitution.
The Guyana constitution provides for changes to be made through referenda.
The proposed referendum was not just about term limits. It was also about the ever- vexing and volatile subject of agrarian reform, something that you are not going to know about if your only source of information about Honduras is the western press.
The concerns of the coup-makers were equally about telecommunication rights to that country.
There are therefore very little parallels between Honduras and Guyana. And this is why it is all the more unfortunate for the PNCR leader to have made the comments he recently made. We are yet to learn of the PNCR’s outright condemnation of the coup in that country.
One would have presumed that regardless of whether the PNCR was misguided about the similarities between Guyana and Honduras that no statement on that country would have avoided condemning the military takeover in that country.
Particularly in a divided polity like Guyana, one would have expected that an experienced politician like Robert Corbin would have recognized that his recent statement can be construed in a way which he did not intend. Whatever parallels he may have wished to draw between the situation in Honduras and that in Guyana, he ought to have recognized that he equally needed to come out and condemn the coup in Honduras, for the failure to do so will expose his party to the criticism that it supports extra-constitutional regime change and this perception will but only galvanize support for the ruling party.
Corbin’s omissions in his recent comments on Honduras play right into the hands of the PPP and allow that party to further solidify its support base and by extension, into non-traditional areas of support.
The PNCR must state emphatically where it stands in relation to regime change and democracy in Guyana. It needs to do this in light of its own dark past of retaining power through the manipulation of the ballot.
Unless it is prepared to do this, it will find that a sizeable chunk of the 35% of the votes that it got in the last election will quickly evaporate, since it will be seen as a party mired in old ways and unable to change and adapt towards a dispensation that respects the democratic process.
Once the support of the PNCR dips below 30%, it is difficult to see how it can salvage a future.
For no matter what it does in terms of leadership support, in a country where voting patterns have been historically entrenched, to have lost 13% of your support in 10 years, is a situation that is irretrievable.
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