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OPINION: What was feared already coming to a head

By GHK Lall

What was feared is already coming to pass and in the worst way possible. What has been written about, and predicted about, and gone against the grain about, in more than one public forum, has unfolded in less than 24 hours since the CCJ went public. To refresh memories, the questions posed repeatedly in the last seven months have been: what next? What next after the CCJ takes to the air to speak?

In the mainstream press, I hear the numbness of the norm: announce elections date now (opposition through its leader). I hear the opposite: no registration, no elections (from government through the Hon. Minister of Finance). And I hear the president himself in hard objection: some 200,000 incorrect voters on existing list. All three statements and positions reek of the hard and unyielding and determined. The heaviness of before permeates. In essence, what next has brought this country right back to right now. That is, the right now of where things have always been: all the elections from before; the last one; and this one, whenever that happens.

In this time of clearly signaled intents of no giving, it should be clear to all that this is all about power: the staying in power; the returning to power. And absolutely nothing else. The CCJ was a Trojan Horse: bought time, cleared space to come right back to where things were before. Always was. For what the CCJ was supplicated for is simple: provide cover for the paramountcy of power using the same failed approaches; and be a party to the continued racial monopoly on power at different times.

The CCJ is expected by some to desegregate power; and to remedy the apprehensions over the misuse of power, though those were not the issues presented before it. To its credit, though, the wise tribunes of the CCJ sidestepped and did not address head-on, they still found a way to instruct (might be too strong a word) the political leaders of Guyana to make a start to put heads together to carve a path out of the controversy, the crippling mess. As if waiting for just such a covering cue, the heavyweights in the diplomatic corps pounced with a statement of their own (a joint one, no less) to sound the same theme: this has to be done together on a partnership basis. Nothing else will do. Nothing else will work. Those heavyweight diplomats, for their part, could not have been clearer and not so subtly signaling as to how they view things, and the range of possible resolutions that can only be afforded by such working together. To repeat: working together to get somewhere beyond where trapped. And lost. And menaced and endangered.

To do so, there has to be physical proximity, if only to engage minds along the lines contemplated. Much time has been surrendered; but some ground gained through these new and foreign insistences on joint approaches. From the initial political leadership reactions, the judicial and diplomatic outsiders may have well spared breath and effort. For it is as if no such thing has occurred, as already the sights and targets have shifted with reversion to the old and unmoving priorities, vis-à-vis: a date, a list, and a deliverable. It is back to the past that is the future.

Times and circumstances have changed irreversibly. The single party mechanism has failed and finds neither faith nor traction with those from overseas that count; they are, admittedly, not the most disinterested of bystanders and observers. But inside Guyana—pulsating, once again stirred and agitated—there is discernment, though not appreciation, at all levels (leaders, supporters, adversaries, disengaged) that this same single party system has had its day. But like a first love, an only love, it is all that is known and desired and cherished.

Men and women have fallen for such passions throughout time. They can and will again, this time too. That is, unless sense and sanity take hold. And neither appears to be around at this time or for the foreseeable future. For good measure, the national and the patriotic could be added. Not present. Nothing doing. Going nowhere. Correction: going down.

Mr. GHK Lall is a Guyanese author, columnist and former financial analyst on Wall Street.