Wars in Kuwait and Iraq were the precedents that set the bar high with information flashes, flows, and failures being reproduced near instantaneously to stationary residences, which was followed later by developments enabling feeds to mobile phones.
Today, just as CNN broke ground decades ago, the recount of Guyana from GECOM’s Command Center makes its way either straight into the living room of edge-on-their-seats Guyanese, or at all hours to their devices. The breaking news bring much cheering and some limited hoping, more disgust and still greater anxieties. How will this recount end? To what and where will it lead?
Today’s modern marvels facilitate every manner of breaking delivery, along with every kind of sharp and powerful disagreements and clashing objections on the part of recipients reported. Guyanese observers, watchers, and readers have a ringside seat from where they are never hesitant to offer expert commentaries, exhibit continuing raw prejudices, and support or denounce fluently. They are now in the position of embedded war correspondents a la CNN, who first led the way with reports from the battlefronts.
Well, Guyanese voters, skeptics, critics, and analysts are now the middle of our recount war, this full-out battlefront, with no quarter being given in this electoral fight to the death. Guyanese, however, do not have to wear helmets or flak jackets, so much as keep their heads down. At least not just yet, and the prayer is that the situation will not descend to real conflict and its unspeakable horrors. Optimism is razor-thin, and it would take a huge miracle for that to not disappear altogether. But we stay the course of hoping against hope.
Amidst the thickening tensions, Guyanese content themselves with keeping gums going and keyboards and keypads humming, which are encouraging aspects of this elusive, unfamiliar democracy claimed to be of the sole and highest priority. But we must caution that there is danger ahead since the recount journey is sure to encounter catastrophic turbulence the longer our travels continue.
We are all for live streaming and holding everyone’s handiworks and fingerprints to the light, yet we wonder whether our fellow Guyanese are equipped to handle all this rich recount reportage, given that our passions are at such high intensities. With a view to what has happened in the first few recount days, the outlook is bleak. For we sense that every inch of our scorched elections terrain will be fought over tooth and nail, with all the surrounding prejudices and antagonisms rising to the fore, and Region 4 leading to the sharpest of contentiousness.
Once again, it is extremely difficult to envision how this country could recover from this, somehow restart as a polity. Once again, we struggle to be optimistic, despite numerous heavy misgivings.
Live streaming delivery is good, it is what is needed here (no matter how limited) but it is also what caused problems before in other realms. It prompted senior military men to complain first and condemn after. It is just too much and does more harm than good; it impairs operations and imperils lives. Those were not unjustified positions, as later facts would support. Every move, every development is parsed and second-guessed without letup. But here we are, and it is what we have currently with the recount going on in the bunkers of GECOM, and it is why we say it is better than the darkness of before.
The Field Marshal (the chair) may feel this way as she struggles to fight one battle after another, and their many unseen and interrelated contingencies, as she is forced to operate with one hand tied behind her back and self-imposed gag order in place. She herself can claim to be a victim, a casualty of this longest and dirtiest of Guyanese wars.
Unfortunately, that is so, and we empathize. Streaming it is and live reporting it almost is, and for these we stand in full support, even as we question its current usefulness.
Nonetheless, as we do so, again we ask ourselves whether our fellows on both sides of the great Guyanese racial divide have what it takes to absorb whatever comes in a tranquil and constructive manner. We contemplate whether this transparent process does not fuel the fires that rage on both sides of our rifts, as it gives cause for much hope and great joy. Or it confirms still greater fears and anxieties relative to the machinations and wicked visions of political and racial opponents.
For, however examined, any side that finds something helpful will maximize such discovery (mildly described at the jumping off point as “discrepancies”) while the other will hurry to minimize (via the sharp unrelenting dismissal of “delaying tactics”), with the worst of distortions filling and convulsing all. Thus, the stage was set on the first days for the next 25 days, or how many days this process turns out to require, which is not 25 by any sensible count. It is where this recount promises to lead.
That is, from one menacing snake pit to all the others that lie in wait. At the end of it all, whether they agree or disagree, Guyanese supporters will have been privy to the insoluble plights of the GECOM Chair and crew, as well as the grand contortions and still greater ingenuities of both the PNC and the PPP.
As much as we hesitate with our doubts over how and where matters will finalise, we still put whatever optimism that we can muster about the end of this recount, and also the way forward after whatever heated baptisms come to swamp us. But we would be remissed, if we do not share our thinking that all of this fine rich recount feedings may make us extremely ill, perhaps terminally so. That it would serve mainly to bloat us still more with the poisonous ingredients that have clogged arteries of thinking and filled the stomachs with the passions that are visceral and vicious.
We hope that developments as they finalize will not bolster our fears, these deep societal pessimisms, and that the wisest of statesmanship will prevail throughout the recount and then later. We trust that we are right on the latter, and that credible transparencies will be the story of those precious, maybe even sacred, ballot boxes and their much-watched contents. The foreign shepherds, fair and forceful, much admired by many and much despised by as many others, have stamped their unified position in the simplest of words and the most unambiguous of manners: do it straight, do it right. Do it cleanly and conclusively, as have been their unalterable insistences all along.
It is our hope that after all these remarkable and unprecedented steps in Guyana’s sordid elections history, that this one will stand, when finished, as a monument to the truths of what was done, and to what was completed in the most credible of recounts, leading to a broadly accepted one.
We are not too far from there now from closing things out, one way or another. May this recount process, as streamed and followed, set the stage for us to go forward in one piece and of one mind.
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