Organization for the Victory of the People (OVP) agrees with Freddie Kissoon’s article, Small parties tell the story of an insane nationality (KN, 21/1/20). The article addresses an issue that OVP addressed months ago. On August 16th, 2020, OVP was the first organization to invite all the small parties to a round table discussion at Critchlow Labour College. Popular political commentators, Christopher Ram and Ramon Gaskin were invited as observers.
At that meeting, OVP opened the discussion by suggesting that the small parties form what is known as a “Big Tent”. This means that they would unite around a common platform. OVP suggested the following points for agreement:
1) Protect Guyana’s sovereignty.
2) Initiate constitutional and electoral reform – end winner takes all and the duopoly of PNCR and PPP.
3) Re-establish free education from nursery to university.
4) Provide quality healthcare for all – modernize Georgetown Hospital and all national healthcare services with an emphasis on preventive healthcare.
5) Revisit Guyana’s immigration and citizenship policies.
6) Re-negotiate the ExxonMobil contract
Surprisingly, there was agreement on the above points. Everyone expressed the sentiment expressed in Mr. Kissoon’s article that the only way the small parties could bring about change is to merge into a coalition. This could have denied both political dinosaurs a majority by holding just one seat that would give them the balance of power. The rest is history and suffice to say, a great opportunity was missed.
Mr. Kissoon remarks: “These misfits have just dropped out of the skies and want to defeat two humongous political parties”. He posits that faced with this “grim reality” it seemed obvious that a merger was the only way forward. But alas, as Mr. Kissoon laments, a combination of “pomposity, hubris, hauteur and insanity” prevented the leaders of the small parties from understanding what Mr. Kissoon refers to as “their place in the scheme of things”.
OVP observed that big egos combined with a complete lack of political experience and knowledge of Guyana’s political architecture prevented these newcomers from developing an effective strategy. Once we realized that a “big tent” was not possible, we took a decision to adopt our current electoral strategy, precisely because we fully understand “our place in the scheme of things”.
We are asking the electorate to give their presidential vote to APNU+AFC. We have made it clear that this is critical support and that we have serious ideological and political differences with the ruling Coalition. Why then, some ask, is OVP asking us to give them our vote? Because, due to the failure of the small parties to form a “big tent” we are now faced with a situation that could possibly open the gates for a return of the PPP Regime. Surely, our memory cannot be so short of things of the past. January 30th, 2020, will mark the 14th anniversary of the assassination of political activist, Ronald Waddell, and there can be no turning back.
The very reason that there are now so many new parties on Guyana’s political landscape is precisely because of the breathing space created by the PPP’s defeat. Unlike us, many of those now speaking up were too afraid to do so when the PPP was in power. As we have said, presented with a choice of 20 lashes or 10 lashes, we will choose the 10 lashes, while acknowledging that no lash is the better option. We are also very clear about the fact that after these elections the struggle continues. The fight to complete our national liberation struggle is underway. OVP fights on many fronts – election is only one front.
We are very clear that in order to bring about a new order in Guyana, where true independence and economic justice prevail, we need to break out of these two party stranglehold, but as we all know, this is easier said than done. Given the absurd dialectic that we find ourselves trapped in, we say, as we said in 2015: Give your top vote to APNU+AFC (to keep the PPP out of office) but don’t put all your eggs in one basket! Vote OVP in Region 4 – it’s called shared governance. A carefully crafted strategy to give the people the power to keep things in check!
Gerald A. Perreira
Organization for the Victory of the People (OVP)
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