With the sudden defeat of the David Granger-led coalition government in the no-confidence motion in Parliament on Friday, December 21, almost every aspect of Guyana society is now in flux. Many are confused and are wondering what the future holds. Others are worried that the situation could descend into chaos and mayhem.
It took only one second to unseat the government, which has been in power for only three and a half years, but it would probably take several months or years for it to regain power.
The actions of one government Member of Parliament (MP), Charrandass Persaud, has halted the procedures in Parliament, crushed the festive spirit of thousands of people and dampened their hopes for the New Year.
It was indeed a difficult Christmas for many of our citizens, who in their wildest dreams could not have foreseen the defeat of the government. But there is usually a silver lining in every dark cloud.
Hours after the Granger government lost its slender majority of one seat in the National Assembly, Venezuela’s navy intercepted a ship from Norway which was hired by the U.S oil giant, ExxonMobil, to perform seismic operations on the Stabroek Block in the Essequibo Region.
The incident reignited a century-old conflict with Venezuela over its perceived claim of ownership of the oil rich Essequibo County, which makes up about two-thirds of Guyana’s territory.
Attempts to solve the border dispute through the “Good Offices” of the United Nations have failed, and are being adjudicated by the International Court of Justice.
The incident occurred at a time when there is much uncertainty and anxiety in Guyana, but the people are hoping that the elections which are due in three months’ time would end the uncertainty and restore stability in the country.
The victorious party needs a strong mandate to either govern outright or form a coalition government that would not be as vulnerable as the current Granger led-coalition government proved to be.
With the defeat of his coalition government, question marks remain over President Granger’s future role, if any, given his illness. But it has been suggested that Mr. Granger will be the Presidental candidate for the coalition in the upcoming elections.
The toppling of the government also threatens to profoundly alter the regional security landscape at a time when Venezuela’s decline has exposed vulnerabilities. Many will be looking for assurances from the major political parties as to whether they will maintain the commitments entered into by President Granger.
They include the handling of the country’s border dispute with Venezuela, as well as initiatives such as the Memorandum of Understanding signed between Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago to integrate and develop their energy sectors.
Over the years, Guyana has experienced various modes of governance including coalitions and governments with outright majorities. The experience is a reminder of how both modes can easily see governments abruptly toppled.
The two major political parties should take note and remember the adage “when your neighbour’s house is on fire wet your own.”
In explaining why he voted against the government in the no-confidence motion, the AFC back-bench MP, Charrandass Persaud, said,“If I die now because people may not be happy with what I have done I will die a happy person. I will have a clear conscience.”
In the coming elections, the nation must move beyond that tone and enforce its burgeoning tradition of peaceful electoral campaigns and fair elections.
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