The latest ruling from the Guyana Court of Appeal clears the way for final resolution of our electoral uncertainty, and not a moment too soon. GECOM and the responsible officials must put aside the temptation to fall into petty disputes and proceed to the recount with all haste. It is of the utmost importance that Guyana has its new, legitimate administration in place regardless of who the victor is.
Why? Because Guyana is being buffeted by unprecedented forces of global instability. The coronavirus is plodding unrelentingly through our communities. Far worse is to come. Two things will be vital for Guyana to minimise the brutal impact of the virus: a legitimate functioning government and the support of international aid. At the moment, we have neither.
The experience of other nations, most far more wealthy and organised than Guyana, shows clearly that a strong government is needed to make and enforce the rules for halting the virus’ spread. After a month without a clear resolution to our electoral squabbles, Guyana is losing valuable time and energy that could be directed towards preparing for the virus. We are also losing opportunities to redirect our new state resources (i.e. our oil revenues) to meet these ends.
Many countries are also having necessary funding, supplies and medical equipment furnished by international aid. Yet Guyana did not make the cut for the World Bank’s first round of aid operations. I suspect that this snub may well be because of our highly-publicised political troubles. While other nations have advanced preparation and asked for support, we appear to outsiders to be a trouble child in the international political community – little wonder we lost our place in queue.
A speedy resolution to our elections and the formation of a new government is therefore critical. The new administration should look to quickly enact clear directives such as the testing and social distancing measures seen in other nations. It must also look to international aid for some of the medical equipment and supplies that will be needed to care for Guyana’s sick as infection rates start to soar. Getting that aid should be easier once Guyana’s reputation is improved.
A new government can also begin to utilise our secret weapon: oil revenues. I have been surprised by the lack of discussion around this point. Many nations are scrambling for funding in order to prop up businesses, households and healthcare systems. Guyana recently received over US$50 million from our first lift of oil alone, with more on the way! Those revenues can and should be redirected via emergency decrees to provide relief for citizens, buy medical equipment such as masks and ventilators and fund care for infected Guyanese.
This political battle could not have come at a worse time. Now we have been caught out by the onset of a global pandemic. Let us put the elections to rest.
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