Kaieteur News- I am going to make a statement here which I will never retract. It is my opinion, and I will cling tenaciously to it. I don’t expect Kaieteur News to ask me to withdraw it, but if it does, I will have to bring an end to my page in this newspaper. The issue is too personal, personalized and philosophical for me.
Here is my statement which I will put in quotation, “Any person who lived in Guyana and watched the election drama unfold and deny there were consistent attempts to rig the results is dishonest and immoral.” I make no apologies for that opinion. Nothing about those attempts to commit fraud was subtle, surreptitious or covert. It was one of the most barefaced, yet facetious but damning actions to interfere with an election result anywhere in the world since global democracy took hold after the end of the Second World War.
Against that backdrop, let me discuss my friendship with Joel Edmond whose resignation from the Alliance For Change (AFC) was done last Saturday. He called me that Saturday morning and told me he wanted me to be the first to know. I was not in a friendly mood. So I said to him, “I don’t want to talk about the resignation before you read my column today, my column is about people like you, please read it and call me back right away and if you don’t, I will call.” He didn’t call, so I did.
I have known Joel and his wife, Geeta Chandan, a long time now. Before they were married, they were my students at UG. I got to know them well after they became lawyers and a good friendship developed. When the AFC secured power in 2015, we had a swashbuckling dinner at New Thriving in which food and liquor flowed freely like the cascading water of the Kaieteur Falls. Please note, I do not drink.
I was walking my dog in the National Park when Joel called. This was the day after nomination for the March 2020 election. Joel told me that Khemraj Ramjattan assured him most definitely that his name was on the list. He said Ramjattan had asked him to go to the AFC campaign office to sign the relevant forms. When nomination became public, Joel was left out. He sounded angry when we spoke. He agreed for me to publicize his chagrin. I did so in a column (Wednesday, January 14, 2020, “Deceit in the AFC election list: Region Five rebels”).
In February 2020, the month before the election, I did a piece (Sunday, February 16, 2020, “Leonard Craig, Joel Edmond, Trevor Williams, Marlon Williams and…) in which I chastised these well placed second-tier leaders in the AFC for not confronting Stalinist political culture of the cabal that ruled the AFC with an iron fist, especially the ugliness that was contained in the renewed Cummingsburg Accord. Of them, Joel invoked my wrath the most because he had more space than most second-tier leaders to criticize that cabal.
The pattern in Guyanese politics is that those who are principled folks but without income eventually accept the authoritarian mentality of their party leaders. Those who have independent sources of funds are more inclined to expose wrongdoing. The list is too long. Balram Singh Rai, Ashton Chase and many others were lawyers who didn’t need the PPP’s assistance, so they openly disagreed with Cheddi Jagan.
In the PNC, Llewellyn John was very wealthy so he could have afforded to clash with Burnham. Ramjattan was a well-oiled lawyer so he wasn’t afraid to challenge Cheddi Jagan inside the PPP. It was the same with Raphael Trotman who didn’t need Desmond Hoyte’s patronage, so he tried to remove Hoyte as head of the PNC.
Joel stood on the identical platform with these names. As a Berbice lawyer, his income was good. He didn’t need anything from the AFC. Yet Joel, unlike Charrandass, chose silence. We had two conversations in April 2020 in which I told him as a popular name in the AFC, in Berbice, he needs to speak out against the rigging. I advised that every voice counts. He conceded that the election result was tampered with but said he needed a break from politics so speaking out was not a priority. At that moment, I was really disappointed.
From April 2020 until last Saturday, I had no conversation with Joel. I was jolted when he said that he wanted me to be the first to know about his resignation. As I wrote above, I was not in an accommodating mood. I was deeply disappointed that he was silent all this time. (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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