There are times in each of our lives when the situation demands that we speak to issues of national importance even at the risk of incurring the wrath of our detractors. The recently concluded and warped General and Regional elections in Guyana is one such occasion. And so today, I propose to break my silence on the results announced by GECOM and the post elections situation in the country.
I have chosen to make this intervention in an unprecedented manner. Many will expect me to address the African engagement in the elections first and foremost and in doing so, deal exclusively with African concerns in this crisis situation. In spite of that reasonable expectation and given my advocacy post 1992, I choose to begin my discourse by giving my view on the Indian masses engagement in these elections, since I believe that a correct understanding of the politics demonstrated by the Indian masses is important in dealing with the post election situation and the political possibilities at this juncture of the country’s politics.
It is my contention in these elections that the masses of Indians struck an important blow for change. Both from the standpoint of the low turnout and the way they voted many of our Indian brothers and sisters demonstrated their refusal to continue to be prisoners of the PPPC’s racist propaganda which conveyed the specter of an African take over if the opposition wins the elections. In the just concluded elections of 2011, Indians demonstrated their political maturity and did not respond in the old way. These who participated in the elections by voting and those who stayed away from the polls made a profound statement i.e. that they were committed to work to usher in political change in the country.
The Indian masses, not the political/economic elite that voted for the PPPC, did so for that party to represent their economic, political and race security interest – not for Indian domination. On the other hand, those who voted for the AFC and APNU did so to bring about electoral defeat of the ruling party. The elections were seen by these voters as an opportunity to change the political equation through the ballot box. The other significant Indian political expression in these elections was the large number of traditional PPPC supporters who decided to punish the PPPC ruling cabal by refusing to participate in the election in spite of that party’s all out efforts to frighten then to the polls .
In refusing the appeal of their party leadership, they instead joined with thousands of Africans and other Guyanese to demonstrate their collective disapproval of both the PPPC’s politics and its system of governance in the country. This is very important in the context of our political / election history and it assumes greater importance when it is realized that a large numbers of these rebellious citizens are young people and first time voters. One can only salute the resolve shown by the Indian masses, the majority of whom are counted among the poor and the powerless in Guyana, who believe that it is time for profound change in the governance of the country.
In examining the African engagement in Guyana’s 2011 elections I wish to begin by saying that my position on the African politics is well established. In short, I have advocated and struggled in our community for Africans to embrace the politics of non domination. What that means is simply that we must not seek to dominate any race group in Guyana, and we must reject all efforts by others to dominate us in political and economic terms. We are talking about equality of all races and people in Guyana. More than a year ago a letter which I authored was published in the news papers. In that letter I sought to make the case for a constitutional struggle for a new governance system based on shared governance.
I also attempted to demonstrate for the benefit of readers the advantages/ disadvantages of the constitutional vies-a-vies the electoral struggle and I concluded that in my opinion, the former represented the only way forward for Guyana. My position then and now is that African and national interest will be best served by the above mentioned approach. The African political leadership in its deliberate judgment ignored my call and hid behind silence. The rulers took note of their silence and interpreted it to mean that the African Guyanese people will once again be entrapped in winner take all elections, that Ogunseye and ACDA were isolated and that the PNCR will once again willingly walk the old road.
In the run up to the elections and speaking from ACDA’s platform in a series of meetings, I made ACDA’s case on the elections and the need for shared governance, national unity government and national reconciliation known. ACDA pointed out that it was unwise for our political leadership to take us in another winner take election. To maintain unity we called on Africans to vote for the APNU given their commitment to a government of national unity and for constitutional reforms to change the governance system to one of shared governance.
In our view the APNU stated program offered the country the best chance for national reconciliation. During our campaign we warned that elections have winners and losers, in the context of this reality, we were bold enough to pose the following question to the APNU leadership – What is your position in case you lose the elections? Let me make it clear that at the time we were speaking of free and fair elections and not rigged elections. Once again our political leadership chose the opportunistic route of silence.
The nation will recall that we in ACDA called on the African community to be prepared to wage a post election struggle for a political solution based on a government of national unity, shared governance and national reconciliation under the banner of the UN resolution for the International Year for Peoples of African descent. Our position was whatever the outcome of the elections, Africans have the right to take political action in the form of countrywide protests for a government of national unity. I, Tacuma Ogunseye state unequivocally that I stand by that position as the correct political response to be adopted by the African Community.
I have taken the position that in Guyana, given our long history of election rigging which dates back to the colonial days, we have arrived at a point in national life when we must say that rigging for all of us is unacceptable and must be a thing of the past.
The question before us is whether in these elections the ruling party benefited from rigging . APNU leadership and others have pointed to a number of irregularities and outright fraud by PPPC and GECOM. OAS in its preliminary report on the elections addressed several anomalies and referred to an incident when two brown envelope containing statements of poll were delivered by an unaccredited person and that the results contained in those statements of polls were at odds with those they had observed.
It is clear to me that the PPPC has put its hands in the bag and was caught cheating. Their actions have violated the rules of the game. The APNU and a responsible opposition should have rejected the GECOM results and called a spade a spade and demand a government of national unity as the only just solution. Instead the opposition has decided to accept the results, invoking the infantile position of a hung parliament. At another point in time I will address this matter extensively.
I say without apology that the APNU leadership in accepting the election results in the face of evidence of rigging without a demand and struggle for a government of National Unity, has betrayed the trust given to them by the African Community and thousands of other Guyanese who voted for them. History will judge them harshly – what a shame. They have chosen to force a young generation of voters to accept the politics of rigged election.
That politics has destroyed the nation in the past and will continue to do so. This is the destiny our leadership h as assigned to us. To the young comrades I say your future is in your hands – I stand with you.
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