Why on earth should a country like Guyana with such vast resources be so blighted?
We’ve got gold, diamonds, timber, bauxite, sugar, rice and seafood, among other resources… and now, with God’s blessing, five-billion-plus barrels of recently discovered oil offshore, with ExxonMobil expected to begin the process of extracting it later this year. We’re over nineteen times larger than Jamaica and nearly forty-two times the size of Trinidad and Tobago – with islands in our Essequibo River that are bigger than many Caribbean islands.
For more than half a century, political parties have been seeking power through the artificially-created demographics of our society (with the exception of the widely-scattered preexisting indigenous community) with tremendous political, electoral and racial conflict, tension and other related difficulties.
Unfortunately, the unnecessary difficulties political parties face, especially on the eve of elections, are generated by a conflict of interest and ‘existing, likely and imagined’ insecurities of the two ‘artificially-created’ major race groups in Guyana.
The current constitutional dilemma created by the recent passage of a ‘no-confidence’ motion in the National Assembly is a classic example of the political fallout of a society largely consisting of, and polarized by two major race groups.
It is time politicians start thinking ‘out of the box’ in the creative sense, and realize that ultimately the only way the nation can significantly resolve the abovementioned problems is by way of creative, wise and practical amendments to the Constitution – the supreme law of the land.
One possible solution is to have a ‘rotational’ Executive President and political party, (the latter, traditionally representing in the ‘de facto’ sense, one of the two major race groups), being guaranteed an alternative term of political power; while gracefully stepping out of office at the end of the allocated rotational period to allow the political party representing ‘de facto’, the other major race group, to govern for a term of 5 years (or 4 years, if a shorter term is considered more suitable for rotational presidencies).
In this regard, Kenya must be commended for trying to assuage and minimize their tribal and electoral conflict, tension and difficulties by thinking ‘out of the box;’ as late last year, a few Members of Parliament requested the Speaker of their parliament to consider amending Kenya’s Constitution to allow for rotational presidency.
While such a creative constitutional and electoral idea, if implemented, would restrict the democratic and electoral rights of Kenyan citizens (e.g., by depriving leaders of smaller political parties, new or old, from any hope of winning an election or from the possibility of gaining political power through the formation of a coalition government), the system of presidential rotation could be seen here as a wise and practical ‘trade-off’, in exchange for fostering the more important goals of national security, peace, the lessening of tribal (or ‘racial’ as in Guyana’s situation) and electoral conflict and tensions.
This in addition to maintaining law and order, the security of a more stable system of governance and the encouraging of foreign investment, through the necessary amendments to the constitution; that will most likely, however, require a national referendum.
While there is obviously no time in Guyana at the moment – in light of the recent no-confidence vote, and the serious governmental dilemma it created – for considering the implementation of a system of presidential rotation, it is my hope that such an idea would seriously be considered in the future by all politicians.
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