By GHK Lall
Elections now! It is clearly an insistence that promises to drag this society from the dark gutter to a deep grave. I believe that the hard, clashing visions and passions are so heated, with matters ever poised at a dangerous pitch, that the clamors are unwise. I hold this position, and it is mine only, regardless of the source of the calls for elections at all costs, and in the soonest time; whether such source is local or a broad-based and pivotal foreign one.
Before proceeding, I must get something out of the way quickly and unambiguously: I lean on no constitution; I scorn and dismiss it as the source of so much mischief in and grief for this society. As has been shared repeatedly, I view that Pontian (Pilate-like) contortion, as possessing all the cheap convenience of a rewarding and titillating interlude with a series of prostitutes. For the Guyana Constitution, in its current deplorable state, has come well-endowed for such transient shuffling and sheltering. Nobody—that is, no political figure or group—has ever held it any esteem, save that of the shabby, grotesque moments loaded with the secretive, manmade follies, and the foul.
I submit that should there be movement on something resembling elections now, then Guyana would go from comedy to circus to crisis. In terms of the latter, it would be an existential one. What say any Constitution then? What would be the credibility and acceptability of any such elections from any loser? I inquire calmly and politely also: what would be the extent, reach, and effectiveness of any winner? As should be obvious, it is why I think any elections under the current unyielding group disputes about all the nonnegotiable elements in the elections stew as leading to a single foregone conclusion only: an exercise in futility. To that I add, an exercise compounding ignorance; and an exercise leading to worse than where we are; perhaps, even worse than where we have ever been.
I believe that the very peoples insisting on an elections now, and without appropriate regard for the vitals of a credible list, a mutually satisfactory Claims and Objections term, and a consensus Official List of Electors, know that whatever comes out from that such an undertaking is bound to be found absolutely unacceptable and, hence, unendingly offensive. It would pave the way for all the many menaces (sure to manifest themselves) that will not be sated by speeches and postures intended to be soothing and comforting. It would be too late for the platitudes that will move no one. I regret that I see us paving the way today (through having elections of any sort now) the grave distresses that do not need much to find unleashed expressions.
Some of those are unfolding, as I write. They are non-confrontational, and subtly supple, but arguably even more crippling. The one of yesterday and today takes the form of a squeeze on the foreign exchange (US dollar) supply. It is traceable to those, who have previously exhibited bland, but unpersuasive, innocence as to any perverse political objectives. Still, it is a timely and powerful cautionary note that pierces to where it hurts and could hurt still some more.
I have no idea what the social media frenzy over the latest developments from today is like; but I imagine it must be chaotic, to say the least. There the sentiments and boiling passions of this nation should serve as a warning for what is in store, should the leaders of this nation not proceed with consummate care and the patience that comes from wisdom. Having said this, I fear that both patience and wisdom are rather scarce in the corners that count. To cut a fine point on matters, the care I call for most likely finds the poorest of receptions.
We have not been listening before, so this is not unexpected. And further, with a focus on harsh local realities, I sense that there is burning reluctance to continue at this pace and in this manner. Put differently, there is readiness, even haste, to close the gap and clinch in conflict. That is how thin and precarious the environment stands. I do not sense that anybody remembers (or cares to) that this is a consensus chairwoman holding the worst job in Guyana, arguably anywhere. Those who come up short on expectations, or on the wrong end of them, are appealed to recall that publicly committed-to word: consensus. Even though it matters not a damn anymore.
Separately, I do not think that the Foreign Legion (ABE, with C noticeably abstaining) acted in the most temperate or wisest manner. The timing was wrong; the tone was wrong; the text was wrong and tests in the severest possible manner the ambiance and relationships involved. For less, and in the preceding era, the shrill response would have been the automatic of: ‘internal meddling.’ It is of an unprecedented and troubling kind. Very troubling. Very questionable. Very discomforting.
I pause at this time and regroup: the Constitution is neither reliable nor credible guide or harbor; that onion has been peeled to the point of sightless weeping. Also, elections now is pushing insensibly for the very worst from a world already savaged and maimed into unrecognizability. From this vantage point of knowing what we were before, we know what is guaranteed to lie ahead. Who would be able to govern in such circumstances and amid such scorching animus?
The current opposition believes it could; I urge those among it to rethink position. The government stays the course; I recommend to that brain trust, too, that there should be review of its stance. At this rate, nobody is going anywhere. As for the nation, it finds itself in deeper and deeper holes. Unlike ExxonMobil and Tullow, there is no oil in them; only more of the disappointing and disastrous discovered. I think that it is not too late to change course from both political directions and directorates. I can only insist that such be explored for the oneness now more than ever required by the moment.
Mr. GHK Lall is a Guyanese author, columnist and former financial analyst on Wall Street.