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OPINION: After all the powder, colour and water

By GHK Lall

After all the malingering, mongering, and mismanaging (of truths and expectations), this could be a case of 5 dates, 2 adversaries, and 1 election(s). The latter two are known; the first is like estimated childbirth: could be premature or overdue. Since elections are involved being right on time is out the window. Care has to be exercised so that any baby does not follow the same path. That would be we, the people.

For starters, the Opposition was proud to deliver the now historic March 21st, and then that sandy line in the sand of April 30; that combination of trial balloon and smoke signal are counted as two dates. At the far end of the date spectrum came GECOM with its own calculations and a time horizon that stretches to November. False labor pain that one is.

In the next instance, and serenely sailing along has been government, which has its still unknown ideal point somewhere on the calendar (this one or the next) on which it has been deliberately vague, if not intricately cagey. Taken together, these far-apart dates are conflicting second and third opinions, but representative of breech birth and Caesarian situation fused into one. Indeed, the world of Guyanese elections is that complicated and upside down.

Add one more possibility from the Court and there is a quintuplet of dates that creates the quintessence of the normal Guyanese elections quagmire. Truly, fixing an elections date in this country has deteriorated to the equivalent of struggling to hold mercury in the palm of one’s hand. There is looming a slight hiccup in this elections arithmetic. While eagerly awaited, it would be presumptuous of the Court of Appeal (COA) to specify a date; any casuistry employed and advanced would fail to convince that it did not overreach. The best the court could be expected to do, as a public service and with an eye to social and environmental urgencies, is venture to recommend a sober, practical range within which to execute what is like threading a needle in the middle of a tornado.

More practically, and in adhering to form and limits, the COA will offer some sophisticated sounding blandishment that leaders must commit to finding a resolution as expeditiously as possible, and as current circumstances can tolerate. Leaders must do so for the greater good. This would be safe, appear unbiased and unforced, as well as even be considered objective and sagacious. Any such judicial deliverance would project shades of the diplomatic corps, the wider international community, and narrower domestic societies (some altruistic, some not so). It would be more akin to the rapid distancing of the Speaker of the House (the Guyanese one, not the Commons’). Those looking for the Solomonic from the halls of jurisprudence should be prepared to settle for the Pontian in that masterpiece of scriptural evasion.

From the hive-and-jive of five dates, there is occasion to take the tactical offensive and high ground. For as everyone knew it was neither March 21st nor April 30th; and now November is the hard sell of a harder unpalatability and unacceptability. The hour is now for leaders to settle for something equidistant to the two extremes; the high ground of statesmanship over partisanship, and the national as opposed to the tribal.

There are those oil-related schemes and priorities, too. They open the door for the naming of a date in late July or early August à la the timely recommendation of international salvagers and rescuers in the body of the Carter Center. No one group gets everything desired, but everybody gets something. Both warring political groups, as personified by their leaders, run one great risk: the perfect list, the most helpful list, the list dreamed of for different purposes, could be a wee bit on the short side: short of names, short of comforting numbers, and possibly short of success goals.

It is time to put rancor and conjecture to sleep. Sound pragmatism and wisdom must take over. First and foremost, one final date is the peoples’ business, welfare, and future. It is not the secret prerogative of two leaders or their two groups. Close out this thing about a date. Time to move forward.