We don’t know what is going to happen in Guyana as the months and years move on. The opposition-controlled Parliament could topple the Ramotar presidency through a vote of no-confidence, thereby requiring another general election. On the other hand, Mr. Ramotar could carve out a working relationship with the combined opposition of APNU and AFC.
It is difficult to see a major split or even an ongoing dispute between APNU and AFC. I know the players in the smaller AFC very well and I cannot see any formidable chasm separating APNU and the AFC in what they want for Guyana.
It means, therefore, that the combined opposition is going to engage Mr. Ramotar on the contention that more than half of the electorate voted for them and not the PPP, therefore the President should listen to what they have in their list of demands. The figures of the difference in votes are contained in the caption above.
The combined opposition got 51 percent of the votes. That is, of course, if you do not accept APNU’s contention that it lost votes because of skullduggery.
The first thing President Ramotar has to do is to look at the reality. It is there for the world to see – more voters chose the combined opposition than the PPP/C, therefore President Ramotar does not have a majority in Parliament.
At the time of writing, the leadership of APNU and AFC were meeting at Congress Place. I don’t know what they are talking about, but I can tell you what is on the mind of an influential voice in the AFC – Nigel Hughes. We were talking yesterday in court at the resumption of the President’s libel suit. He is adamant that on the basis of the vote, African Guyanese rejected the Indian-dominated PPP and voted for the African-oriented APNU, therefore the opposition must insist on constitutional changes.
Obviously, President Ramotar cannot accept everything in the menu of measures by the opposition. By the same token, the opposition cannot support President Ramotar’s legislative agenda as if the ruling PPP/C is in charge of Parliament. Where in the world does a minority government just sit back and get its way in a legislature dominated by the opposition? So what will happen tomorrow? There could only be one pathway – concessions, compromise and nationalist pursuits on both sides. There is no alternative.
One would like to think that Mr. Ramotar will want to have a period of a prolonged presidency rather than accept a vote of no-confidence and in three month’s time we are back on the election trail. Concurrently, one doubts very much that APNU and AFC will be in the election mood for a long time to come.
So all three parties will not want to return to the campaign arena. The last election was a grueling one, and to go back on that train is indeed a daunting prospect.
So Ramotar will want a few years of the presidency and APNU and AFC will not be happy to start another election drama. The common thread will be compromise. But can there be compromise without the implementation of the desires of the electorate? We thus return to the figures in the title. Can APNU and the AFC negotiate a common destiny for Guyana without taking into consideration what their supporters demanded of them?
This columnist followed the campaign of both APNU and AFC closely. There was a relentless attack on Mr. Jagdeo’s post-presidency pension. There was the promise from both APNU and AFC that if they win the poll, they would reduce the magnitude of the package. (Laws, however, cannot be made retroactively). Both parties control Parliament by a simple majority. Could they continue for the coming months and years without using their parliamentary clout to reduce Mr. Jagdeo’s goodies? They can, but will it not go down well with their supporters. Will their supporters stick with them without the emotional charge of betrayal?
Then there is the question of the opposition’s attitude to the state media – Chronicle and NCN. Dr. Rupert Roopnaraine on the campaign road, called NCN, the National Criminal Network. The opposition hates what the Chronicle has become. Could APNU and AFC control Parliament, live side by side with President Ramotar, and accept the graphically unprofessional nature of these two media houses? The answer is yes, but will their supporters accept their position?
So there are some troubling grey areas in the start of Guyana’s new dawn. How the main actors traverse these bumpy roads will determine whether we have a stable society or a very troubled one.
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