The present political crisis requires compromise. However, both of the main political parties are unwilling to effect the necessary concessions which can diffuse the crisis.
The crisis has led to tensions which are bubbling below the surface. The country is divided along political and ethnic lines. And you can feel and sense it as you go around the country. This spells trouble.
General elections have always been tense affairs and are often accompanied by violence and instability. No wonder Guyanese are bracing themselves for the worst.
The cause of the tensions is the game of egos being played by both the PNCR and the PPPC. The PNCR does not wish to face the humiliation of having its term shortened.
The Cabinet is refusing to resign. Under the Constitution, it is required to do so.
The PNCR is resisting this resignation because it does not wish to lose face. It knows that Cabinet is dissolved upon the passage of a no confidence motion.
It dissolved Cabinet after the Chief Justice ruled in January that the no confidence motion was validly passed. The coalition established something called a plenary of Ministers in the place of Cabinet.
The PNCR is now contradicting itself. It is saying that Cabinet is not required to resign. It is game of egos and face-saving.
The PNCR is also refusing to accept the label of “caretaker”. It is calling itself an “interim government” since it knows that there is a difference between what the former and what the latter can do.
In so doing, the PNCR is flaunting its contempt for the CCJ. But this is in part because the PNCR does not wish the Coalition to be constrained in what it can do over the next few months. It wants to go on a spending spree to woo voters.
The PPPC is also into the ego game. It piloted a successful no confidence motion and it does not wish to have a pyrrhic victory. It has brought the government down. And it wants to ensure that the government does not pussyfoot and try to hold on until the end of its term.
The present List of Electors does not grant any special advantages to the PPPC. What the PPPC wants is for its ego to be satisfied by forcing elections within the stipulated three-month period.
Political divisions within GECOM stand in the way of this objective. GECOM holds the cards as to when elections can be held.
The PNCR is pressing for house-to-house registration because it knows this will guarantee that it can stay in office until next August. The PPPC does not want house-to-house registration because it wants early elections.
It is all about egos. On both sides.
There is a possible compromise – one that will satisfy both the concerns over the List and which can allow for the holding of elections within three months.
Instead of house-to-house registration, there can be house-to-house verification. What this means is that instead of going house-to-house to register persons, the staff of GECOM can simply go house-to-house and tick off who is dead and who is living or holidaying outside of Guyana.
The political parties do this all the time. Even local government party activists were going house-to-house to verify the list. This exercise can be wrapped up in a week.
From this exercise, two additional lists can be compiled. The first is the list of all those who are dead and the second is all those who have migrated, are on holiday, or not at their place of residence. The dead can be struck off the List of Electors.
And for the second list, special safeguards can be put in place for those who may be out of the jurisdiction or working in another part of the country during the verification exercise. The Carter Centre suggested something similar and which is allowable under the existing elections laws.
Elections can be held within three months. A credible list acceptable to all can be generated. But it will not happen when egos are flying around and there is unwillingness to compromise.
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