Aug 05, 2020 Letters
In a dramatic development which saw the restoration of constitutional order five months to the day after the March 2 elections, Dr. Irfaan Ali, presidential candidate of the PPP/C, was declared by the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) and sworn in by the Chancellor of the Judiciary as the ninth Executive President of Guyana. I extend to him sincere congratulations.
The five months have been a period that tested our people, our society, our institutions, including our courts at home, and the patience and tolerance of the international community. During that time, feelings have hardened and the language which pervaded the national and social media has at times been vulgar, irresponsible, racist and misogynistic. But we have to take comfort that, in the end, good sense prevailed and we have survived as a society relatively intact.
The divisions wrought by the delay, and the activities during the past five months, will be hard to heal, but heal them we must. More than for any individual or party, this is a victory for democracy, for the people and for the rule of law. I believe that this message is as relevant to the PPP/C as it is to the APNU+AFC Coalition. In an earlier letter, I wrote that our country has changed governments twice in five years, compared with twice in fifty-one years before that. That is an achievement of which all Guyanese ought to be proud, despite the events in the courts which need no recounting, at least not at this time. Let us build on that achievement by continuing to hold Ali and his government accountable and responsible. No longer must state assets and property be used in the crude manner in which the Chronicle and the NCN have been misused, particularly since the No Confidence Motion. That must be brought to an immediate end.
The challenges facing the new administration are formidable and require each of us to make our contributions to a Guyana that is proud, free, democratic and fair to all its citizens. On Saturday I accompanied the Hare Krishna movement as it engaged in food distribution on West Demerara. I felt personally ashamed that I live in a society in which adults and children, without COVID – 19 masks and some with runny noses, join lines to get a box of food. For a country with all the resources with which we are blessed, this is a national disgrace, even allowing for the pandemic which continues to wreak havoc across our country, and particularly in the hinterland communities.
It is as much a failure of governmental policy as it is of our society that we subject so many of our own people – our long-suffering women, able bodied men and intelligent children – to live in such inhumane conditions. Immediately, President Ali and his team, which I hope will be inclusive rather than exclusive, must pursue social and economic programmes under which no one goes to bed without a shelter, wake up without hope, pass a meal time without food, and spend the day without the opportunity of education and work.
We have not had a parliament for over a year and a budget presentation for more than 18 months. Let us take whatever lessons that period and those experiences have taught us. The main one of course is that the ballot box is a crucial, but only one element of democratic governance. There must be a place in our society for the likes of Lincoln Lewis, David Hinds and Stanley Ming who will have discovered when they woke up this morning that the sky had not fallen down, that the country has not been taken over by alien monsters. They will soon realise that if there is one lesson that the PPP has learnt over the past five months, and hopefully the five years it was in opposition, is that Guyanese no longer have the tolerance for governmental excesses and abuses, for patronage and privileges for friends and supporters.
We all deserve to be treated equally and we must remind President Ali of the sacred oath he took yesterday before the whole world, that he would “bear true faith and allegiance to the people of Guyana ….. without fear or favour, affection or ill will and …. [that he would] honour, uphold and preserve the Constitution of the Co-operative Republic of Guyana.” That holds as well to his Prime Minister and all his ministers.
To former President David Granger, he did the right thing eventually and I extend to him my best wishes in whatever he does for the remainder of his time. And to Dr. Jagdeo, congratulations on leading your party back into Government. Note that the work expected of you by the nation, now begins.
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