Kaieteur News-President Joe Biden has not offered to hold any talks with the former US President, Donald Trump. Nor has there been any insistence that he engages in political dialogue with the political Opposition.
And no one is insisting that such talks are necessary for the democracy to be healthy. Political dialogue is not a requirement for democratic government.
There is no gridlock in the United States over the failure of Joe Biden to have talks with Trump. In fact, Trump even spurned the traditional meeting, which usually takes place between the outgoing President and the President-elect.
There have been no calls for political dialogue between Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the Leader of the Labour Party Keir Starmer. Such dialogue is not essential to the health of British democracy.
It is therefore surprising to learn that the United States and the United Kingdom foreign missions in Guyana are encouraging dialogue between the President and the Leader of the Opposition. It is even more surprising that this proposal is being couched in terms of ensuring a more robust democracy.
President Ali has no reason to want to meet with Opposition Leader Joseph Harmon. President Ali recognises the latter as the Leader of the Opposition but there is no indication that Opposition Leader Harmon reciprocates.
Ali has called on Harmon to get off the false narratives. He has taken a realistic position that the Leader of the Opposition has to recognise him before there can be any talks. The exception would appear to be on Constitutional appointments in which case the consultations are mandatory though this does not necessarily imply that it has to be face-to-face consultations.
Dialogue between the government and the Opposition is not a condition for democratic government. It is not in the United States and the United Kingdom and it should not be in Guyana.
The health of democracy requires foremost respect for the right of citizens to elect their government. It rests on respect for civil liberties – freedom of expression and association – and respect for other human rights such as freedom from arbitrary arrest.
There is no police state in Guyana even though the Police Force is far from being a model professional institution. Freedom of expression is not under threat by the government. The Opposition can hardly complain about not getting its views across. Social media has put paid to any attempts by any government to suppress dissenting opinions.
The institutions for ensuring robust political debates have not been countermanded. The Opposition has a voice in the National Assembly. It is not de-recognised within the National Assembly. How can a political entity, which showed scant regard for electoral democracy expect to be engaged in political dialogue?
The threat to democracy emanates from the Opposition. It is the Opposition, APNU+AFC, which tried desperately to hold on to power against the expressed will of the people in the elections of 2nd March 2020. It was the actions of the APNU+AFC, which threatened electoral democracy and to push Guyana back into political dictatorship.
It was the British and the United States, along with Canada and the European Union, which refused to accept this threat to democracy. And had it not been for the stance, which they took, the APNU+AFC would have run roughshod over the wishes of the people of Guyana.
The APNU+AFC appeared to be prepared to rule by hook or crook. But what is not being given enough recognition is the fact that their attempt to foist themselves illegally upon the nation was rejected by the majority of their supporters. The attempt at railroading the elections did not gain traction with the majority of the supporters of the APNU+AFC. They did not take to the streets in large numbers and this represented their rejection of any threat of a return to dictatorship.
It was the Opposition, which shot itself in the foot after the elections of 2nd March. It was the Opposition, which attracted international condemnation because of the shenanigans it employed. It was the Opposition, which brought shame and disgrace to the country and to itself.
The Opposition is exclusively responsible for its present difficulties. It is compounding those problems by its absurd labelling of the government as an installed regime.
Democrats and demagogues do not belong around the same table. Political dialogue has to be premised on an acceptance of democracy and until and unless the Opposition is prepared to concede that it lost the elections and until such time as it is ready to demonstrate its rejection of electoral skullduggery, it has no place in democratic politics.
(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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