Recently, the British High Commissioner bid farewell to Guyana. He had initially said his formal goodbyes but was then asked by his government to ‘hold the fort’ until his successor was selected. He thus came back but has now returned home.
When a diplomat is scheduled to leave, it is normal for them to visit with both the Head of State and the Leader of the Opposition. The British High Commissioner had bid farewell to the President; this was reported by the media. But there was no report of him bidding farewell to the Leader of the Opposition.
Relations of course between the British High Commission and the APNU+AFC were not at their best during the five-month hiatus between the elections and the eventual declaration of the results of those elections. The British Government was in the forefront of the international efforts to scuttle the APNU+AFC’s attempt to be declared the winner by foul means. No it was always highly unlikely that any of the western diplomats who were scheduled to leave would have been paying any courtesy calls on the main Opposition party.
But there is a much more serious implication of the APNU+AFC’s actions during the election muddle. The APNU+AFC was subject to international ostracism because of their role in undermining the democratic process. As a consequence, travel sanctions were imposed by the United States of America on those who were believed to be complicit. It is widely suspected that persons within the leadership of the APNU+AFC would have had their visas revoked.
Also, it is obvious from comments made from certain leaders of the Caribbean Community that they want no dealings with persons who were complicit in the rigging of the elections. And so it is more than likely that regional and international leaders would not wish to be seen in the company or presence of certain persons within the APNU+AFC leadership.
The APNU+AFC faces a credibility crisis. How does the leadership intend to restore this credibility when it is more than likely to be continued to be shunned by the international community. No foreign leader is likely to want to meet or request a meeting with the leadership of the APNU+AFC given what took place in Guyana between March and August of this year.
It is hard to see how effective the main Opposition, APNU+AFC, can be without the capacity to interact with the international community. But the international community appears to be keeping its distance from the APNU+AFC.
The APNU+AFC won 31 seats in the March elections. It is the legitimate opposition. But it has a credibility problem because it is more than likely that the travel restrictions have not been relaxed and are not likely to be relaxed given the serious concerns which were expressed over the Coalition’s action during the election impasse.
Michael Pompeo came to Guyana and did not pay a courtesy call on the Opposition. The President of Suriname came to Guyana and again there was no report of a courtesy call on the Opposition. Nothing has been said so far as to whether the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Brazil paid a courtesy call on the main Opposition.
The PNC/R and the AFC would have earned disrespect over their conduct after the elections. The elections showed that they lost support. It will be hard to regain that support unless there are sweeping changes to the leadership of both parties.
The only way in which the image and reputation of the APNU+AFC can be renovated is through an overhaul of the leadership of both the PNC/R and the AFC. It is difficult to see how the same leadership which was at the helm of the party during the election confusion can continue on given all that has happened since.
But strange as it may seem, there appears no acceptance of this need. The same old leadership is in place and is attempting now to be critical of the incumbent government. Whatever they say though is going to boomerang against them because fingers are going to be pointed in their direction over what took place between March and August of this year.
There are some things in life which you cannot reverse. And the attempts at undermining the election are going to haunt those who tried to benefit from the insidious attempt to pervert its course.
Once the present leadership of the APNU+AFC remains in place, the PPP/C is going to have a walkover in any election. Once the APNU+AFC opens its mouth, the PPP/C is going to point to the Coalition’s actions during the election impasse and people, including international donors, will simply continue to shun the main Opposition.
(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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