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OPINION: I disagree with coalition’s commissioner recount statement; I separate from it

by GHK Lall

Though I had warned to manage expectations, I still harbored faint hopes that norms would prevail, that self-respect would take priority, and that whatever processes are agreed upon and employed would be the end of the matter. My lingering strand of optimism was that all of this would lead to the final stop in this most grueling, controversial, and disputed of long electoral seasons. And, against all instincts crying against, that—somehow and in some way—we would be able to proceed up the road towards a higher ground, a smoother plain.

I must be as empty-headed as the rest of my hard-headed Guyanese brethren. There was scant, the most unpromising, chance that the called for and pushed for and much needed recount would settle this man-made political crisis once and for all. Something has to be wrong with me to place any faith—any trust whatsoever—in hoping—gambling, really—against the overwhelming odds and against the house. It is a fool’s endeavor. It is the most foolish, the most inexcusable, exercise in thinking that committed and determined political players would walk the line required by doing the right thing. The coalition is not doing so right now, not to any degree, not by any rational measure.

For here it was that there came an announcement about clearance for a recount, and preparations were being finalized to be set in motion, to close this conflict out, once and for all, over allegations of rigging, who actually won, and who really lost. From all appearances, and I must say it in the clearest and simplest manner, the coalition has lost. One more time: it has not won. For now its actions present a mosaic of powerful and compelling pictures of the proverbial drowning man clutching at straws, any fragile straw that may be imagined or prove to offer the fingernail grasp of a harbor before the storm of accuracy that threatens to demolish.

For here it was that a coalition commissioner stepped into the public arena to articulate the unbelievable, the now increasingly and undeniably desperate, and the unendingly disturbing, in its significance and implications. According to the Demerara Waves headline of April 3rd, the following summed up the thinking and present position of the coalition: “Recount does not mean automatic declaration of winner -GECOM Commissioner Alexander.”

The questions come tumbling down. If it doesn’t, then what does it mean and where does that lead? If the arithmetic of a recount is dismissed and discarded before any such exercise commences, then why go to the trouble? Why proceed down a path that is already doomed to rejection of some sort? Why engage in yet another exercise in futility, without the requisite good faith, but with intentions that may be best described as unacceptable; or, at its worst, perverse?

I say that if this is the mindset at this time, then let’s stop this thing right now, since it proves nothing, solves nothing. That is, other than opening another avenue for the perpetuation of the tense, dangerous squabbling, the deepening racial tensions and hostilities, and the ongoing suspension of crucial continuities so needed by any society, as part of its marches in daily life and towards whatever lays beyond. This is most urgently needed now in the face of the grave viral cataclysm that menaces. I do not know with any authority what lies beyond (other than the upheaving); I do not know what the esteemed commissioner said in full beyond that remarkable headline (my usual dismissive practice that only the predictable follows the news captions).

But I do know this: that whatever he and his party meant—for I don’t think he spoke uncleared or unthinkingly, he is too much of a seasoned veteran in operating in the political minefields of Guyana, where there are so many unexploded devices—he spoke for his party. Well, Commissioner Alexander did hurl an unexploded one in the midst, and it blew me right out of the water. There is not much left to analyze, to weigh this way and wonder about the other, and this is regardless of whoever interprets and however “does not mean automatic declaration of winner” is interpreted, since it is sure to be pointless and furious.

I have already interpreted that statement by how my thinking operates, and that this leaves me no place but to go where my remaining senses lead, which is to this summit—or depth.

It is clear that the coalition is committed to a course, any course, which ensures that it does not relinquish power (written about repeatedly by me prior to elections) should the realities of counts and observers so conclude. Or that, at best, it is also committed to salvaging whatever may be gleaned from the results of a recount that reports it has failed, it lost. That doesn’t sound like democratic norms to me; that positions to be close to undemocratic conditions that more and more look inevitable (also cautioned about by me continually). Whatever the case, the vision, the objective(s), this is wrong; and, once more, this is not something with which I could live.

It contributes immensely—arguably, irrefutably—to unmoving claims and the sharpest of contentions about rigging and fraud and the rest. I had given the benefit of the doubt; now, I am prompted to say that I cannot and will not be any part of such, near to any of this. As much as I cringe at the thought of the opposition at the helm, which I believe even more firmly is unworkable because of how much it is found unacceptable, I believe that what started out as the rules and standards must prevail, must proceed to wherever they lead.

Thus, I say let truth and accuracy be the order of the day, and there be no other way. Then, let this thing terminate. It is long past the time for us to move on. Circumstances will take care of themselves. Or us.

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