Opinion piece by Fitzgerald Yaw jr, Ottawa, Canada, November 9, 2011
The Nov 28, 2011 general election is critical to the direction of Guyana. The election is being held at a time of great challenge in the global economy. Guyana has not been as negatively impacted as some other countries by the instability in global markets because of its commodity based economy, especially gold, and the relative isolation of the country from formal global financial flows. However while as a whole the country has been sheltered from the global instability, within Guyana the divisions of race and economics needs to be reduced to get the county on a path of sustainable development which would lead to prosperity for all Guyanese.
Inclusive development of Guyana demands different and improved governance. Post independence Guyana has underperformed compared to its Caribbean peers and South American neighbours. This underperformance is attributable to a political culture that is rooted in race division. Enabling Guyanese to work together to develop the country for all its people demands a new constitution and new governance arrangements that reflect an understanding of the divisions in the society and a desire to heal those divisions. In the 1992 general election there was what has proven to be a naïve view that a PPP government would have worked hard on changing how Guyana is governed. The evidence from 1992 to 2011 is clear: the PPP was interested first (and often seeming only), in staying in power and, especially after the death of Cheddi Jagan, in facilitating corruption and criminality.
The Guyanese voters therefore need to turn out in on November 28, 2011 to vote the PPP out of the Presidency. The best chance for that would have been with a united opposition grouping going into the general election against the PPP. That has not happened. The hope now for Guyana is that the voters turn out and vote for Guyana and not for race. Whichever party wins the Presidency, that party must lead a government cabinet which includes respected members from the AFC, APNU, the PPP, and Guyanese Civil Society at home and abroad. All persons whose visas have been revoked/withdrawn for criminal/corruption related reasons by the ABC countries need to be excluded from the Cabinet and consideration for senior public sector appointments. A streamlined Cabinet with experienced and qualified members from all three of the credible parties (AFC, APNU, PPP) must focus on both economic development and governance reform with a timetable for fresh elections based on a reformed constitution in no more than three years.
Guyanese must make their need for inclusive government be absolutely clear to the contending parties and the way to do that is to turn out to vote, and then vote based on what is best for Guyana. The fact is what is good for Guyana is going to be good for all Guyanese, regardless of ethnic background, and location around the world. As they see in the Middle East, Guyanese voters have to tell the politicians who really is in charge. Look at what just happened in Egypt: the people spoke. For how much longer are Guyanese going to silently suffer and leave their beautiful country to drug runners and corrupt officials at high and low levels?