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OPINION: Leaders taking this country down an uncontrollable road; time for regional, international mediation

By GHK Lall

The road in Guyana keeps getting rougher: from hardline to deadline to immovable lines in the mud. The word is: No way! Not today! None of this leaves any room to maneuver; less space for optimism for those few citizens who do not proudly number themselves in the ranks of the unalterably committed (politically) and the increasingly hostile (socially). For whatever it is worth, I say this again: this troubled road now enshrines all the chronic stoppages of bottlenecks that build until (it has to be said) blows up. Blows up points to the confrontational that are rooted in anger, anticipation, and asininity. Asininity because no one wins anything.

Where to from here? Deeper into the political swamp? Deterioration from the same unchanging, unthinking, uncompromising leadership lead footedness?

Regrettably, there are no (none) recognized domestic intermediaries embodying across-the-spectrum trust or regard: no credible conciliator, no reliable mediator, no acceptable bridgebuilder. Not the neutral brokering of churches, for they are viewed as fragmented and insignificant, arguably biased. Not the pressing presence of the powerful business sector, for that is seen as hopelessly tainted and compromised. Not civil society for that is seen as too impotent, too fragmented, and too self-serving. It is not even the unions with their praiseworthy 19-point initiative, for they do not travel with a compelling and authoritative aura. It is not even the sobering, restraining hand of the judiciary. All of these societal blocs that should have been influential sectors lack standing in the political arena, due to perceived prejudices and weaknesses, some accurate, some speculative. They may be listened to, but there is no hearing. Minds and objectives are that steely at this point, and promises to coalesce even more every step, every word, and every posture forward.

Once again: where to? Since there is not much for the table (or in the head) locally, then only the international community remains; it has to be. It is that or the bitter disturbed pathways. As a quick digression, I ask another question: after the hard talk and inflexible posturing, does any leader aspire to that terminal? Also, do followers (some salivating, some celebrating) have a really full appreciation of what advances with remorseless inevitability? I do not think so. Now the international community represents the last gasp fallback net and option; it is a desperate stretch and footing. There is nothing else. Caricom has to signal some move and initiative, even if only verbal. The Carter Center has to come again. That must be now. The diplomatic corps is already here and watching. They should hear: help wanted and needed. Might be internal meddling, if uninvited; yet I think that such overtures must happen behind the scenes.

This is how insurmountably difficult, how humiliatingly pathetic the local political context has become. It speaks for itself: Unreceptive. Unnourished. Unproductive. Unmanageable. It could transform quickly to close to the unlivable, too. Already, there are two of everything in what is harshly and bitterly controversial: two visions; two interpretations; two disparate, but comforting answers (one each) for the two adversaries. And along with these, come too much of the self-serving and too little commonsense that barters towards a bridge of convergence.

Observe keenly. In this Guyanese world of two only, there are no third parties and third forces anymore. As suspected and predicted (again, regrettably) they have all evaporated in the ether of insignificance. They might as well not exist for the dismissal of presence and inaudibility of voice before the majors and their followers. Not a second thought. Overheard on the radio were the usual laments that voters should hold leaders accountable; well, they derive their authority and strength from the same nice people calling for sanity and good sense. That is the catch-22: the electoral mourning is the leadership empowering; the leadership knows so, and delivers to suit. And none of this – not leader, not follower – is changing by one speck. The critical should check with the forlorn third parties, bystanders all.

Thus, it is down to the same two that leads to nowhere but the here at the downward slope that imbues with so little hope. The only reserve left and maybe available at this stage is the community of outsiders. Since there is no interest in listening to or heeding of each other, then this is what it has to be. This is it. This road has been journeyed before. For beautiful Guyana is also a dependent Guyana. A troubled and suicidal one.