There is one thing that can be said about the opposition parties: they do not accept responsibility for their actions when these actions go askew. They demand political accountability from the government, but they are adept at avoiding responsibility for their own actions.
Once problems develop during political protests, the opposition parties are quick to find excuses and scapegoats and to extricate themselves from responsibility. It is always someone else’s fault; there is always some justification for what took place. The opposition never stands up and accepts responsibility or says we regret whatever injury or destruction was caused. APNU and the AFC cannot be held responsible for what happened recently on the Agricola Public Road. The AFC does not have the capacity to organize such a protest and if APNU was involved it would have been a much larger demonstration.
It is however hoped that if either or both of these two main parties are found culpable for other protests in which they had a hand and which went askew, that they would do the right thing and accept responsibility rather than use the same old excuses about the protests being infiltrated by agents provocateurs.
It is time that the opposition parties are held responsible and they take responsibility for those actions with which they are proven to be associated, otherwise, Guyana will continue to suffer embarrassment in the Region, as has been the case in the past.
Following the 1997 elections, the PNC took to the streets in mass protest action to question the outcome of those elections. From the statements of poll of its polling agents, the party ought to have known that it had lost those elections and lost it convincingly.
Yet it stubbornly refused to concede defeat and instead took to the streets, employing the most hateful forms of political protest ever seen in the country. The consequences were tragic for this country and the economy took a long time to recover from the ensuing instability and destruction that accompanied it. As part of the Herdmanston Accord, it was decided that an independent commission drawn from Caricom would undertake an audit of the elections. The opposition’s antics in the streets had caused its supporters to be suspicious of those results. The supporters were claiming that their votes were stolen. The audit therefore formed part of a menu of measures aimed at settling the controversy and bringing about some form of political reconciliation.
The supporters of the PNC pinned their hopes on this audit because they were led to believe that they were robbed at the polls. As it turned out, the audit upheld the declared results of the elections. The PNC was supposed to have abided by the outcome of the audit. The only caveat on signing the Hermanston Agreement was that the audit would not prejudice other actions which the main opposition party would take. An election petition was eventually filed.
Yet as one international report later surmised, the PNC, even after the audit confirmed the results of the elections, continued to call into question those results. The opposition was shamed in the eyes of the region for having, at great expense and time, had a team of highly recognized persons come to carry out an audit supposedly because the PNC felt that there were serious irregularities that would have called those results into question. Instead, the audit found that the declared results, with only minor exceptions, coincided with their own findings – and the auditors went through ballot box by ballot box.
The time the audit team took to go through the ballot boxes, one by one, and count every single vote, was just longer than it recently took APNU to verify the just over 2000 statements of poll that it had received in electronic format from the Guyana Elections Commission following last year’s elections.
Again APNU, of which the PNCR is the dominant partner, had cast suspicion over the results and some of its supporters had even misguidedly taken to the streets to protest the results of the elections. At various stages of its reconciliation of the statements of poll, it had sought to convey the impression that there were problems. It even had the gall at one stage to say that the presidency could be called into question. In the end, APNU could produce nothing that could alter the results and its supporters were once again left in an embarrassing situation.
After the protests in Linden and the terrible incidents of July 18, the PNC pressed for a Commission of Inquiry into the deaths of the three persons who were killed in the unrest. They even demanded that Caricom play a role, and it is because of this that we now have commissioners drawn from the region. APNU was clear as to who it thought was at fault. It is left to be seen if the conclusion of the Commission of Inquiry concurs with APNU’s original assessment and if not, whether the grouping will dissociate itself from the findings of the Commission.
It would be a sad day if after all the efforts that have gone into the work of the Commission of Inquiry, APNU does not accept the results of that Commission. But then again, considering the record of the PNC, that would hardly be surprising.
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