Decentralization of power and authority in a nation is as essential to democracy as national elections. The perception of citizens that they are in charge, that they have a say in how their affairs are handled, is enhanced by the existence of local administrative institutions to which they have direct access, that are directly accountable to them, and which they have the power to change periodically through local electoral plebiscites.
Such local authoritative and administrative structures, Mr. President, which we refer to as Local Governments, represent an important and vital pillars upon which democracy can be built in a nation. Without them the building of democracy in any nation becomes just an elusive concept, a symbolic affectation, and as the brother Robert Nesta Marley describes, “an illusion that is easily pursued, but never attained”.
Every nation can be described as a conglomeration of community interests and concerns, and those interests and concerns are best addressed and administered by democratic institutions that are closest to the people. And Guyana is not an exception.
All across the geographical communities that make up our nation there is burgeoning dissatisfaction over the absence of local Government Elections. Citizens in many, maybe most of our local municipalities, are being deprived of one of the most important democratic prerogatives in human societies.
That is, to select from within their neighborhood proximities, leaders in whom they have confidence to manage the day to day affairs of their communities, and grant them relief conditioned by the political distance that exists between grass roots communities, and estranged and often non-empathetic officials in central Government. Mr. President, local Government elections in Guyana are a constitutional prerogative that is long overdue.
The main obstacle to the holding of such elections, as we all know, is your Party’s political vacillation on the issue, a product of its uncertainty of how it would fare in such elections, given the wide spread dissatisfaction over its performance at the national level.
Rather than yielding to the demands of the public and the constitution, we have seen, as have occurred in Georgetown, a hubristic and arbitrary imposition of unqualified persons who are affiliated with your Political Party, and who do not have the confidence and approval of the municipality’s population as expressed by their political representatives, in position to make decisions on their behalf.
This amount to one of the most odious abuses of national power and authority, and as in other such manifestations as we have witnessed over the past two decades, proclaims to segments of our communities in no uncertain terms that they have no constitutional or legal rights which your party and Government feel duty bound to recognize and respect.
But they do Mr. President, they do have such rights. And the fact that your party and Government, in its actions with respect to Local Government Elections, with respect to the administration of justice in Guyana, with respect to the rights of citizens to due process and the presumption of innocence, equality under the law, and freedom from abuse, torture and extra judicial capital punishment, display contemptuous intolerance for those noble principles essential to the sustenance of democratic and social equilibrium in a nation, will not diminish the resolve of the people to agitate and struggle for what is a civic entitlement. Frederick Douglass, formerly one of the enslaved in this part of the world stressed that, “Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.
Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and these will continue until they are resisted with either words or blows, or both.
The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress”. And how well we have seen that in operation in Guyana. So we must make this demand from the powers that be.
We must courageously demand rights to which we are constitutionally entitled, and do so unwaveringly until they are either heard, or that power is replaced with one that will be compliant with constitutional and legal imperatives. We must resist the tyranny occasioned by an avaricious quest for political hegemony, regardless of which political party is at the helm of Government, not necessarily with blows, but with words and legal actions designed to remove its presence from our lives and that of the generations to follow.
Mark A. Benschop
(Supporters and friends of the: – Independent Party/Benschop for Mayor campaign, and other patriotic Guyanese)
Ron G. Morrison
Cindy Dian Sookdeo
Andrea Niles Mccorg
Mystikal Qyne Hanifah
Anndis & Dustin Fraser
Rudy Gonsalves (aka Guyana Rudeboy)
Ayanna Yassen, and others)
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