On Wednesday 5th February 2003, then United States (US) Secretary of State, retired army Four-Star General Collin Powell made a presentation to the United Nations Security Council. In his hand was a vial containing a white substance that purportedly was anthrax. He made the case why the US’ planned invasion into Iraq was justifiable. That vial was said to be ‘evidence’ the Saddam Hussein government was actively pursuing the acquisition of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) and had to be stopped.
The US Congress, based on WMD ‘evidence’, granted President George W. Bush authority to go to war. The world on Thursday 20th March 2003 watched the televised invasion of Iraq. That war cost the lives of thousands of soldiers and civilians. A country was torn apart, its leaders either captured or tried in a kangaroo court and disposed of. The world was told Iraq and Iraqis were liberated.
But there were those who stood in opposition to the war, including then Senator Barack Obama and House Representative Nancy Pelosi. While Obama made known his objection to what he called a “dumb war,” Pelosi called for a thorough investigation into the WMD allegation. Both views fell on deaf ears.
At the same time the US government was spinning a narrative that Iraq had something to do with the 11th September 2001 (9/11) terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centre in New York and the Pentagon in Washington D.C., which claimed the lives of thousands.
Years later, Powell acknowledged the role he played in the US and its allies going to war remains a “blot” on his record, and the WMD allegation “was a great intelligence failure.” Strikingly, there was support from Iraqis for the war. Some believed the US’ ‘evidence’. Some wanted regime change and by any means necessary. Some had grown tired of the tribalism and had become dispirited with Hussein.
A not too often spoken fact of the Iraq War is how global conglomerates moved and commandeered the country’s oilfields and production, with the backing of Western superpowers, throwing a country into disarray and resulting in the disenfranchisement of Iraqis.
The gist of the Iraq War story is a nation was torn asunder not on credible evidence, but ulterior motive. This is a lesson for Guyana and we must learn from it, because allies and support come in all forms, not necessarily operating in our best interest.
On Thursday, America, Britain and the European Union (ABE) issued a joint statement riddled with falsehoods. The President of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana was accused of “failing to adhere to the decisions of the Caribbean Court of Justice [CCJ]” to hold elections by 18th September, being “in breach of the Constitution” and the audacity of a call was made for him to “set an election date immediately in full compliance with the constitution”. These arguments prefaced the threat that ‘non-compliance’ with the ABE’s orders/falsehoods, for those are not the CCJ’s or Constitution, “also hinders the [ABE’s] ability to support Guyana’s developments”.
But here’s what the Constitution says at Article 106(7), which the ABE ignored. Fact – i) the “three months” period to hold an election passed since March 2019; ii) the court’s final decision was handed down by the CCJ on 18th June and written Judgement on 12th July; iii) the “at such longer period” to hold an election kicked in, necessitating the vote of at least “two-thirds” of all the elected Parliamentarians.
That release made a case against us not founded on credible evidence.
We must pause and reflect. Guyana is a sovereign nation, the President is Head of State and Government. It is one thing to have a fellow president speaking to ours in such manner, but another when lower level government workers could think such conduct is acceptable and, moreso based on falsehoods.
That so-called evidence the ABE produced is not unlike the one Powell produced at the UN. Nowhere in the CCJ ruling of 18th June or 12th July written judgment, was it said that election should be held by 18th September. That court ruled that the election be conducted consistent with the constitutional duty of the President, National Assembly (and implicitly GECOM).
Refer online to para  here: https://ccj.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/2019-CCJ-14-AJ.pdf
There is a view that because the CCJ ruled on the 18th June and a pause was placed on the possibility of an election being held by the 22nd March 2019 – i.e. the “three months” point – such started on 18th June, ending by 18th September.
This is the ‘evidence;’ Guyana’s vial of white substance the ABE is using to threaten sanctions. That argument not only raises concerns about logical thinking, it disregards the fact the court never made such a ruling, and we are nine months to the date of the no-confidence vote, requiring Parliament’s input.
The war of words continues, but like Obama, we too must avoid engaging in a “dumb war” amongst ourselves. We must be possessing of Mrs. Pelosi’s curiosity to demand credible evidence before support is lent to any action that can destabilise us, and as we fight amongst ourselves, our petroleum resources become the picking and beneficiary of others.
A few weeks ago, the U.S Ambassador in an address to AMCHAM-G General Council had this to say, “For example, some recent suggestions about local content policy in Guyana may send a signal that some investors, as well as the employment and know-how benefits they bring, may not be welcome here.”
The Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) issued a fitting response that “we have to do what is best for Guyanese businesses.” It is no secret Guyanese desire a Local Content Policy that factors in the well-being of our environment, local labour and business. Like the braves before, we must fearlessly pursue same.
Forces – external with internal support – are yapping at our feet, exploiting internal tension and division not for the common good.
I hope it is not lost on society that the comments emanating from the ABE mirror those of some sections of the media, the Opposition, and a recent statement by the GCCI. Place them side by side it will not hide that there exists a targeted messaging strategy (talking point) to present and influence a particular thinking and action. Facts, truth, the stability of this nation and the law be damned.
The coalition government has to take some responsibility for what is happening today. It rode into office on goodwill based on a platform of change, but has fallen short in some areas. I continue to speak to this issue not as a supporter of this or any administration, because I have been the recipient of political arrogance and harbour no reservation this could change.
I write as a committed citizen of this dear land, with a wide-eyed view of what is happening and the potential of what could come if we don’t band together, safeguard this nation and its institutions, and ensure we are the premier beneficiary of its resources. This is time to put nation above self, for without a nation, the self becomes meaningless.
The caretaker/interim Opposition Leader has abandoned post and likewise his team. These parliamentarians no longer care about day-to-day governance and the National Assembly, even though they continue to receive monthly salaries and daily enjoy the privileges/benefits of their office.
There is a move to have the coalition hold an election and/or remove from office by any means necessary. There is doubt on this issue the proponents and surrogates will stand with Guyana against the ABE falsehoods, and their threat of sanction in any form.
We face a clear and present danger of disintegrating as others are lining up to plunder and profit off our resources. We must not lose hope or focus. We must fight back. We need voices of reason to speak out and demand that the caretaker/interim Government and caretaker/interim Opposition sit down together, talk with each other, negotiate and arrive at agreement on a way forward that puts this nation and its institutions, people, proper exploitation and management of our resources first.
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