The AFC wants General Elections. The APNU wants Local Government Elections. The PPP wants no election. The AFC and APNU have threatened to take action if their calls are not heeded. Political parties should be interested in elections for at least two primary reasons– to get into or remain in political office and to ensure that the rules of engagement are not rigged against them. One can assume that our political parties are of this mindset. The PPP’s position is clear—use its control of the most powerful branch of government to remain in office and to ensure that the current electoral rules are not tampered with.
The positions of the other two political entities are not that clear. The AFC has been a champion of Local Government elections and Electoral/Constitutional Reform. It now favors immediate General Election. But it is yet to make a convincing case as to how general elections now would remove the PPP from control of the executive government and/or bring about constitutional reform. What puzzles is that the champion of Constitutional Reform (at least some of its leading members are) is prepared to go to another election without such reform.
Similarly, the APNU has not said, apart from how good these elections are for democracy, how Local Government elections would remove the PPP from office or hasten its removal or change the Local Government status quo. What puzzles is that the APNU is prepared to have Local Government elections without complete Local Government reform. Remember the President has not assented to the most crucial piece of reform legislation. Further, the APNU has not done anything to mobilize its constituency to take advantage of some beneficial aspects of the current Local Government framework such as the return of Village Councils. The less said about the APNU’s attitude to Electoral/Constitutional Reform the better. Based on what we have seen over the last three years, it is simply not part of their thinking or agenda.
So it seems our parties want elections simply to renew the status quo. Of course they are not likely to see or say it that way. I still believe that the no-confidence motion is the beginning of sound political strategy. But to use it to push for elections is unimaginative politics. To abandon it for Local Government elections is equally unimaginative. It should be pursued and used as leverage to push for the two things that are most needed to make elections meaningful—Electoral/Constitutional reform aimed at democratizing the rules and a general Political Solution that clears the way for a joint National Development thrust.
I continue to believe that the outcome of an Interim Government is one of the fairest and most reasonable ways to go. It gives the AFC and APNU three things—Partial removal of the PPP, partial participation in Government and increased space for Electoral/Constitutional Reform. Similarly, it gives the PPP three things—more time to try to woo its lost supporters back, an opportunity to restore its fidelity to its Jaganite roots by agreeing to a political solution and to tactically have the PPP and AFC share the burden of governance. In the end they all win and Guyana gets a new lease on life.
Dr. David Hinds, a political activist and commentator, is an Associate Professor of Caribbean and African Diaspora Studies at Arizona State University. More of his writings can be found on his website www.guyanacaribbeanpolitics.com