Mar 04, 2013 Letters
I genuinely believe Vishnu Bisram’s and Ralph Ramkarran’s recent appeals for constitutional reform along a return to some form of Westminster-styled parliamentary democracy are not rooted in a genuine desire for this country to find a path to a better nation.
They are rooted in a desire for the PPP, when it loses power, to not suffer the same pain, angst and despair it heaped upon its political opponents and this country for the past 20 years using this constitutional monster of the 1980 Constitution and the rabid powers of the presidency that come with it. They are afraid of the retaliatory capacity of the PPP’s political opponents.
They are afraid of the prosecutorial rage that will be unleashed upon the PPP by its successor. They are afraid that the PPP will be extinguished as a political force once it loses power because once its leadership flees Guyana, those ordinary members they have locked out will be incapable of rescuing the organization. I strongly believe these calls for constitutional change from these men and others of PPP lineage are rooted not in an inalienable nationalism for the goodness of the nation but but largely in a partisan PPP patriotism for the goodness of the PPP first which will tangentially benefit the nation at large.
Ramkarran was one of the foremost figures in the PPP’s hollow constitutional reform process from 1999-2000, a process that is being exposed by today’s constitutional frustrations as nothing but cheap constitutional imitation of a sordid nighttime Lombard Street experience.
Masquerading around this country for two years in a frivolous pretence while the PPP held the Parliamentary and electoral majorities to pass a referendum bill on its own and to secure a voter majority on any referendum in 1999 only emphasizes the sinfully shamelessness of that lurid window dressing exercise. Now that the PPP is collapsing into its own hubris and is faced with political exile in the near future, Ramkarran and Bisram are beating a drum of constitutional change not for sake of country but to save the PPP from the battering it will take after it loses power.
Bisram and Ramkarran suffer from the same disease that afflict PPP supporters and members who are silent while the PPP is hijacked and a General Congress constitutionally due now for two years is yet to be held. It is a disease called hypocrisy. That is not to say that what they men are seeking is inherently right. It is. Constitutional change is a necessity, an absolute for this country to advance. However, the motives behind these big changes today are suspect.
We did not hear these proposals in 1992 or in the years up to 2011 when the PPP was riding high on intoxicating absolute power. We are hearing it now because the demographic, electoral and psychic reality has changed for the PPP and it is a fading political entity. It is hypocritical that these men have not boldly fixated on the dictatorship within the PPP that has refused to hold a PPP general elections or local government elections but they want constitutional change to protect a despotic political entity from its abominations.
It seems it is only now after 20 years of heinous politics, constitutional decimation, pillage of the rule of law and executive lawlessness these men have suddenly found their constitutional conscience when the PPP in is inexorable decline. Too late may very well be the cry.
While I will condemn the Ramkarrans and Bisrams for their motives, I endorse their underlying premise of the need for constitutional reform. There is no doubt constitutional change must come. The problem is the PPP may have lost that moment, forever. It no longer commands a majority and based on demographic and other evidence, will not in the future.
That evidence points to the PPP losing power in the next two election cycles. Thus, even when it knows it will fall from power, the PPP’s lack of a majority means it cannot even pass a referendum bill to trigger constitutional change to protect itself or the country after it loses power.
With the majority in Parliament, only the opposition can now determine whether, when and if a constitutional referendum can occur. The PPP has made itself into a sitting duck. At least the PNC dictatorship had the power to rig another referendum and change the constitution before it lost power but inexplicably failed to do so.
The PPP cannot do so. Even if it risks rigging the election to secure a majority to push such constitutional change, such action could push this country into civil war or force the armed forces to move against it in defense of democracy and the PPP will be the painful loser in that scenario. To make matters worse, the PPP passed the recall legislation that blocks MPs from voting their conscience and crossing over to other parties. Thus, it cannot even obtain crossover votes from MPs willing to support its referendum bill.
The PPP has blocked every initiative and foundational attempt to build a better democracy in Guyana. It has rejected attempts to reform and make independent the Election Commissions and other entities. It has failed to create ethnic balance in the country’s civil and armed services. It has failed to hold local government elections which would help to decentralize power, something that insulates it when it loses power. It has palpably failed to fix race relations in Guyana at a time when race politics will destroy it electorally and will generate serious racialized political backlash when it loses power.
These arrogant and foolish missteps will, when it loses power, trap the PPP in the same mud of despotism it played in. The PPP has effectively checkmated itself and its political future. Dictatorship does not know when the noose is around its neck.
The PPP is destroying its future by behaving like political goons in the present. Every step the PPP takes to weaken democracy from the illegitimacy of a minority government perch will return to haunt it when it loses power. We are going to hear constant cries of constitutional change with shrill urgency as the beating drums get closer as the walls of the PPP crumble. Where they are crying from and who they are really crying for is another matter.
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