By GHK Lall
The pubic releases in the immediate aftermath of the political leadership talks of Wednesday represented a good beginning. The statements from the leaders of both parties were comforting and indicated an awareness that de-escalation of the sharp rhetoric was necessary and appropriate. This can only be applauded.
Now the sobriety manifested in what appeared to have been a cordial atmosphere and reasoned exchanges needs to be continued. This sobriety must be accompanied by a continuing commitment towards the obligation to the peoples of this nation for mature sustained statesmanship. It has to be adhered to by both sides; it must cascade down to supporters, especially the more raucous and volatile ones, the ones given too easily to the inflammatory. Whatever the outcome of court hearings and decisions, there must be steadying influential voices on both sides calling for wisdom and calm; compelling recognition, respect for, and adherence to established processes. Whatever the dates decided upon for national elections, great care must be taken to assure that the atmosphere does not deteriorate to the turbulent, but remains smooth. Again, leaders must move, and move preemptively, to prevent ripples of dissent from spiraling into roars. Nobody hears when there is roaring from all angles. Mobs are too easily spawned; and social media is the perfect cover for such reckless incitement.
My position still stands and for the multiple and varied reasons previously advanced: shared governance it must be. And it must incorporate the two major parties. Today is a needed first in a long grueling way ahead. I think everybody with a brain in the head knows this. Separately, I will be among the first to say that the words of Wednesday were carefully phrased to the point of terseness. There was a concerted effort, I believe a genuine one, to find balance, to offer some soothing, as opposed what has not been in either air or space or trenches before. It was as though each word was weighed and measured first, then sifted through numerous finely meshed filters, so that not a single word or phrase was out of place; or would be subject to misinterpretation. I extend congratulations to both leaders, to both groups.
The challenge is where to go from here and how to proceed gingerly to that place of less tension, lesser acrimony, and greater understanding. I trust that this is not the proverbial calm before the storm; or yet another false dawn. As a practical matter, I think that those in the know are aware that general elections cannot be held in 90 days, even with the best of intentions. Honorable intentions. They know why. They also know what are suitable alternative dates, and what ought to be collaborated upon in the interval to achieve continuity and the stability that comes with such. Of course, that interval of preparation and waiting cannot be-should not be-open-ended. It has to be definite and more near-term than longer.
All of this requires that leaders rise to the circumstances on the ground as they unfold, while managing the expectations of supporters, and schooling both themselves and those who believe in them. This calls for a lot of restraint; a tremendous degree of patience; and always keen consideration for the public at large, and the sensitivities and raw passions that surface near elections seasons. That process about decision date is here now, whether within reach, as in just now; or farther down the road, as in later this year.
I call upon our leaders, I appeal to them to be even more aware of the combustible and fragile nature of this society. Its thin infrastructure must also be taken into account. Surely what is ahead can be managed to everyone’s satisfaction in an orderly and structured manner; and as dictated by a practical chronological sequence that ensures a trusted and credible end result. At this point in the short history of this shaky nation, there are too many dreams percolating in the air for mistakes or miscalculations or misjudgments to be made. A wrong turn, any averting of the gaze (no matter how slight or momentary) is sure to transform those promising dreams into nightmares, and recurring ones at that. The greatest of care should be taken by all leaders (and contributors) that this nation does not get there at any time, by any means, or for any perverse objectives. The cost would be too much; definitely unbearable.