The PNC/R effectively attempted to do a ‘Zimbabwe’ in Guyana. In 2008, there was a political crisis in Zimbabwe. The ruling Zimbabwe African Union Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) lost its majority in the elections. The opposition candidate then pulled out of the Presidential run-off due to political intimidation.
A political crisis ensued. The impasse led to a transitional government comprising the two parties. The power-sharing government eventually fell apart because Robert Mugabe of the ZANU-PF continued to dominate the government.
The PNC/R realizing that it had lost the elections and having failed to rig those elections had tried to float the idea of a political solution, involving the Coalition government and the PPP/C. That idea was still-born. The PPP/C rejected the overture outright.
Granger’s power-sharing proposal was a last ditch effort to hold on to power. It was never taken seriously even by his own supporters because they knew that it implied that the PNC/R had lost the elections. If the PNC/R had won the elections, why then would it desire to share power with the PPP/C when it did not do so in the preceding five years.
The Zimbabwe model could never work in Guyana. The international community would have none of it. They saw with their own eyes, the blatant attempt at rigging.
In the case of Zimbabwe, South Africa had played a key role in brokering the power-sharing agreement. The PNC/R may have been hoping that after the Recount, Caricom would have played a similar role.
But the leaders of the CARICOM were fearful of the bug of rigged elections reaching their soil and so they opted to ask for a recount and to go no further than demanding that the results of the Recount be respected as representing the democratic will of the people.
During the Recount process, the dishonesty of the PNC/R was blatant. It obfuscated the process to the point where the Caricom team which scrutinized the Recount described it as a fishing expedition. The conditions therefore never existed for any form of power-sharing because there was compelling evidence that the PNC/R had lost the elections and was attempting to steal victory.
The PPP/C knew that it had won the elections; the international community knew this. The PPP/C was never going to enter into any power-sharing deal with a party which was seeking to compromise GECOM officials and to use the Courts to frustrate a declaration of the elections results.
In summary, therefore a number of factors militated against a Zimbabwe-styled arrangement. First, there was no question in the minds of the international community that the elections were free and fair and that it was only the tabulation process, which was flawed. This was unlike in Zimbabwe where the ruling party had lost its majority and the opposition had pulled out of the Presidential run-off. No such problems existed in Guyana.
Second, there was an electoral crisis and not a political crisis. The vast majority of supporters of both parties would have known who won the elections and the PNC/R could not get people in the streets to force a political crisis which could have forced power-sharing.
Third, Caricom opted to work within a democratic framework. It was never going to be lured into playing the role of a power-sharing broker. When the Caricom team which scrutinized the elections gave its report about the Recount, it was the final nail in the PNC/R coffin. The PNC/R had no footing to press for shared governance or new elections.
The PNC/R engaged in large-scale electoral theft and it was exposed in front of the eyes of the whole world. It brought shame and disgrace to the country and its people. Two Caribbean leaders headed observer missions of Guyana and what they had to say was not complimentary of the leadership of the country during the elections. It is doubtful whether that leadership would ever be successful in having an audience ever again with any Caribbean leaders. Those Caribbean Heads would not want to be seen associating with electoral fraudsters.
Those who were complicit in the rigging of elections or who refused to condemn such attempts, should have been put out to pasture. They should have brought the curtains down on their political careers but they have refused to do so.
It takes a special kind of backwardness to believe that in this modern era, you could get away with rigging an election and then turning around and changing the narrative to one in which you were cheated.
Whoever advised the PNC/R that it could get away with its attempt at rigging the elections or force power-sharing, as was the case in Zimbabwe, gave them the wrong advice. The two situations were never alike.
(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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