Last Updated on Thursday, 15 November 2018, 18:50 by Denis Chabrol
Three noted Guyanese Political Scientists- David Hinds, Freddie Kissoon and Mark Kirton-on Thursday believed the People’s Progressive Party’s tabling of a no-confidence motion against the governing APNU+AFC coalition was aimed at capitalising on electoral inroads that opposition party at Monday’s Local Government Elections.
Hinds said the PPP has calculated that it was riding on a high and was merely using the no-confidence motion against what appears to be a weakened coalition that has failed to bring out the majority of its supporters at the local polls. He further reasoned that the PPP was taking advantage of poor inter-party and intra-coalition relations as well as President David Granger’s absence from Guyana due to medical reasons to hammer home its political advantage going into the 2020 general elections.
Hinds, a long-serving executive member of the Working People’s Alliance (WPA), called for APNU and its constituent parties and the AFC to to meet urgently in a strategy session to devise a plan to confront the PPP.
Since coming to power in 2015, the WPA has been very critical of the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR)-dominated APNU not meeting regularly.
Former University of Guyana Political Science Lecturer, Freddie Kissoon echoed similar views and said the no-confidence motion was in line with the PPP’s decades-long strategy of filing no-confidence motions against the then PNC-led administrations in the 1970s and 1980s to put the “weaknesses and the frailties” of the government in the public.
He further reasoned that the PPP was taking advantage of “worrying minds and troubled signs and troubled times” in the PNCR’s leadership because of uncertainty over whether President Granger would retain the presidency on his return from Cuba or if he would do so with a lesser workload in a “very, very troubled country”. “The vote of no-confidence, I believe, is timed to exacerbate those divisions in the PNC,” he said.
Kissoon virtually ruled out the possibility of APNU and AFC members voting in favour of the no-confidence motion to at least give it a one-seat majority for 33 in favour of the PPP, but cautioned there would be a slim chance of an AFC member defecting. “I believe the AFC’s constituency defected en masse from them and there are people in the leadership who believe ‘we owe that constituency an explanation, we betrayed those constituencies, maybe we should do something’ that’s the reason I believe it will come from the AFC and not the PNC,” he said.
Another shaky pillar, Kissoon said, the PPP was taking advantage through the no-confidence motion was the unofficial statistic that shows the AFC getting 1.8 percent of the popular vote in Region Five, a result he believes weakens the AFC’s hand in bargaining going into the 2020 general elections.
Hinds and Kissoon disagree with those who frown on the PPP’s performance at the Local Government Elections because of a low voter turnout because, what mattered was the fact that APNU and AFC were unable to bring out their supporters in larger numbers to vote for them.
Former International Relations Professor at the University of the West Indies, Mark Kirton also said, in an initial reaction, said the PPP was “playing on the momentum of the so-called massive win of the local government”. “They could energise their base with that kind of claim and maybe you are looking at the absence of some people from Parliament”. Kirton said he has heard unconfirmed reports that “somebody who is so disaffected that they may vote with the PPP”.
Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo filed the no-confidence motion with the Clerk of the National Assembly at Parliament Building. If House Speaker, Dr. Barton Scotland gives the go ahead for the motion to be debated, that could be done any date after November 27, that is 12 days after it was filed.
Jagdeo has cited several failed promises by the APNU+AFC coalition government, alleged mismanagement and alleged corruption as major reasons for filing the motion. He argued that the performance of the government was worse than the reasons that had been cited by the AFC for its no-confidence motion against the then PPP administration in 2014.
In terms of the chances of the no-confidence motion succeeding, Jagdeo said it was unlikely the PPP would win the much needed ‘yes’ from among the 33 government parliamentarians, and he acknowledged that the debate would give opposition law makers an opportunity to vent pressure on the Granger-led administration.
“That is the worst outcome but we may achieve something positive from that; that is to basically reiterate through the debates and send a strong signal to them from the political opposition what the people have said to them through the local government elections that they need to change their ways on almost everything,” Jagdeo told Demerara Waves Online News.
That motion had never been debated, but eventually then President Donald Ramotar had dissolved Parliament and called elections in May 2015 resulting in the PPP’s first electoral defeat since 1992.