Kaieteur News – After a person connected with the Working People’s Alliance (WPA) was caught with a false bottom suitcase, containing a telescopic rifle, at the Timehri International Airport and later convicted and jailed for the offence, concerns were raised as to the intention of the weapon. At the time, the talk in the street was that the weapon might have been imported to be used to target Burnham.
If Burnham’s security were on edge then, they were on tenterhooks afterwards. The President’s security became paranoid. Burnham cancelled a community visit to Agricola after he was advised that the main entrance and exit was the same road. After the incident with the man with the telescopic rifle, whenever Burnham spoke at the Square of the Revolution, there were always security lookouts on top of the Takuba Lodge building which housed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Burnham was scared as hell but he tried to dismiss the threat publicly by saying, “Shooting me is a waste; another Rasta gan tek meh place.”
Burnham eventually succumbed in 1985 to heart problems. He had a heart condition for a long time and it acted up during throat surgery. He is believed to have suffered a heart attack during the surgery and died.
No person of similar ideological disposition took his place. The person who took over promised to follow in his footsteps but changed course. The PNC could not find another Burnham to take the Founder Leader’s place.
It is easy to elect an individual to be leader of the PNC/R. The PNC/R elected Hoyte after Burnham’s death (for a short time Dr. Reid was leader). After Hoyte’s death, they elected Robert Corbin. And after the defeat of Corbin in the General and Regional elections of 2006, the PNC/R elected David Granger.
Presently, a number of names are being thrown into the mix for the position of PNC/R leader if and when the next Congress of the party is held. And the talk is about finding a new leader in the party.
If the PNC/R however is to regain any credibility, it cannot find any leader. The party needs a remake, a genuine remake. Simply changing the leader is not going to allow for such a process. What the party needs is a new crop of leaders to restore legitimacy and credibility to the party.
The PNC/R has to face reality. Because of the shenanigans, which it engaged in after 2nd March, it has given Irfaan Ali a third term. The incumbent President is virtually guaranteed a virtual walkover in the next elections in 2025.
The Guyanese people would have grave reservations about trusting the PNC/R to accept the democratic will of the people. The PNC/R actions after the polls closed on 2nd March last year has left a bitter taste in the mouths of democratic-minded Guyanese. The party appeared bent on winning the elections by hook or crook. It disgraced itself locally and internationally by claiming that it had won the elections and then later claiming that it has been cheated.
The PNC/R faces a credibility crisis. It is now viewed widely in Guyana and outside of Guyana as not having a democratic bone. If the PNC/R however hopes to regain power, it can only do so through a democratic process.
However, not all those persons who were involved in the plot to rig the 2020 elections can be trusted with leading the PNC/R. As such, there has to be a fresh leadership. Anyone associated with the party’s shenanigans, from March to August last year, cannot be part of the remake of the party.
So it is not a case of finding a new leader. It is not about finding a new leader so much as it is about finding a new slate, which can be distanced from the shenanigans of 2020. It is a case of sweeping aside all those who were tainted by the elections of 2020. The party has to make a fresh start with a new slate of leaders demonstrably committed to democratic politics.
A new cohort of leaders is needed within the PNC/R. This group will have to show that they are genuinely committed to respecting democracy. And not only will this group have to be able to win control over the leadership of the party, but it will have to present itself to the public as representing change by distancing itself from those who brought shame and disgrace to the country.
Unfortunately, there is no such group, which is likely to emerge within the PNC/R. And therefore it will be left to David Granger to assume the responsibility of rebuilding and preparing the party for a long stay in the 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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