By Leonard Gildarie
Is it over?
I had an uneasy sleep Friday. Went home after midnight after breaking the Region Four results, which was announced by Returning Officer, Clairmont Mingo. As I write, the Opposition is gearing to file applications for recounts.
The country remains divided, deeply so. Elections do that. These elections, though, will scar us for a long time.
The declaration by Mr. Mingo has placed the Coalition ahead of the People’s Progressive Party/Civic and sets the stage for a rocky path ahead, not only domestically, but will place us in uncharted waters with our international partners.
Two Mondays ago, I went into work while the voting was in full swing. I decided to assist Kaieteur Radio with a few updates from persons on that road.
Since then, I have been stuck there. It has been a lesson. My aging body has taken a beating. Even bathroom breaks seemed impossible.
I like writing. I love the newsroom. It is like a work of art…you do your best.
So it was that I entered something of which I had no idea. Radio is totally different from newspaper. You have to think quickly and it is your voice that matters. I don’t have a radio voice.
With Facebook live streaming, the ball game has changed dramatically.
All of a sudden, I am treading carefully. The persons being interviewed have something to say, regardless of which side of the divide they stand.
My job is to ask the questions. The people of Guyana are not stupid. They have been watching and listening and making their assessments.
The last couple of days would have brought the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) under scrutiny. The debate and criticisms and calls for reforms will continue in the months and years to come.
Are the criticisms unfair? Did GECOM fail? These are all questions that will surface.
As a media person, I would want to believe that I would be speaking on behalf of my other colleagues in insisting that our biggest peeve would be the restriction and obvious intimidation of reporters in the past few days.
Friday’s evening behaviour of persons, as reported by media workers, in front of the GECOM’s headquarters where a declaration was made, is simply unacceptable.
A nation is waiting for news, and reporters were summoned by GECOM to cover the declarations by Returning Officer, Clairmont Mingo. Reporters complained of being heckled. There were even attempts to search the bag of one reporter.
Our reporters called for transportation, after being refused passage by the persons gathered. The police ranks, the reporters said, did nothing.
The Guyana Press Association was loud in roundly condemning the intimidation of the press. It is not one reporter who complained. It was several of them, from various media houses. The media has been described as the fourth estate – the voice of the people and almost like another government.
With social media in play now, everyone with a smartphone is a reporter. It is the way of the world now. To take that away, is to deny someone his or her rights.
The issue is but one of the many narratives that have emerged from tough elections, the ripple effects of which will continue to reverberate in months and years to come.
It is etched in history now.
We are a people who have a right to demand better, and better must come.
The political parties, police force and GECOM will all take blame for the fiasco in the last couple of days.
Am I afraid? I have learnt that in this job, it is an accepted fact that questions and views will divide us.
Do we stop? We can choose to stop listening to the detractors and those that seek to delay development and the advancement of this country.
Half of Guyana will not be happy with the results. They have a right to be angry.
Do we start the conversation now to truly bring social cohesion and healing?
Do we pretend nothing has happened?
I have not spoken much of this elections, except it is still fluid and there are developments. We will be fleshing it out.
Throughout it all, the rule of law and whether there is respect for our courts, have been brought to fore.
I have one question. Do we want a Guyana where there is no respect?
You answer that!
(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this newspaper.)
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