by GHK Lall
In a flash we went from what was about disagreeing to what is now the disbelieving. I don’t care how we got there, the fact is that we are here, and it is inflaming, distressing, and devastating. I don’t like it; I don’t agree with it; I don’t think what developed on Thursday could stand. I wish I could take a different tact, but I just can’t.
From one corner, there are shouts about winning, yet there is no celebrating. If this is winning, then we are better off without it. If this is about respect for the whole process, then the bottom has just fallen out from this society; it has no moorings; it has just lost its visions of what lies ahead. Already I sense the stirrings of instability, of chronic wretchedness gathering for a full head of steam. Now when one major group of voters has been publicly and openly assured of victory, nothing and no one would be able to take that away from them, to erase that mindset, even to upset temporarily what is now settled gospel in their minds and hearts. There is no reasoning with this; nothing about democracy and democratic processes that would suffice to calm agitated souls.
For wherever any new approach and new count and new result brings, this one thing is fixed in stone: it would be scorned, damned, condemned, and totally rejected by those who see themselves as the only bona fide winner; that seed has been planted, whether as strategic chess move, or as political placeholder. Yet an early recount there must be, which brings to the other side of the bent coin that is this country. If or should that recount signal victory for the opposition people, as they have insisted all along belongs to them, then the shoe of celebration transfers to the other foot, and the wall of rejection and hostility now stands in the coalition ranks.
It is a lose-lose situation for both groups and for this society ultimately. I say this because neither of the groups would be able to run the country. From the opposition’s side, there is sure to multiply economic sloth and boycott, which could be severely crippling to the coalition’s governance efforts with the ultimate impact felt nationally. In addition, there would be the reality of one court proceeding after another, in conjunction with massive street demonstrations, which snarls everyday commerce and the ability for government to function effectively. Since this is the 21st century and not the 1970s, the international community would be compelled to respond beyond moral suasion and polite disagreeing postures. Even if the Americans for strategic considerations were to drag their feet in this department (which would look terribly hypocritical), the EU could go its own way and take whatever action it deems appropriate to the situation. When taken together, I am foreseeing a coalition government that is backed into the tiniest of corners by this combination of domestic and foreign pressures.
On the other hand, if the opposition were to emerge ahead in the last count, then the specter of relentless street presence, disrupted commerce, and intense social disorder and unrest converges to render the peoples and communities of this country economically comatose, for ill intents and purposes. I sense that the reality on the ground would be of ferocious nationwide resistance to any government structure, other than that of the coalition.
The bottom line from my read of things is that both major groups were looked upon most disdainfully and most hostilely by supporters from the other side before December 21, 2018. To repeat: prior to the no confidence development of December 21st, the peoples of this country literally hated the existence of their political opponents. The events since that fateful time have confirmed the intensification of those unmoving antagonisms and the absolute distastes that surrounds this so-called political and social democracy. Matters and passions are more compounded now.
Now we are past the stage of the usual winner-takes-all mentality and resumption of and resignation towards life going on. Nothing is going on. Not today. Not anymore. Not here. On Friday morning, the town was in a state of zombielike numbness, with only a fraction of the population floating around listlessly. And this is only on the morning after the Gecom developments and the coalition’s triumphant announcement before its own.
The only way forward is for the two major parties to be brought together (a euphemism) to form an interim government to lift us out of the deadlock. An essential part of such an arrangement would be a sturdy third party presence, such as ANUG, which could lend sanity and credence to whatever methodology is employed and whatever mechanism is finalized. That temporary mechanism is to afford the time and space to reengineer what we have electorally and constitutionally to extricate us from the quicksand that cripples. There is no other way out of our impasse. For the last time: neither of the two parties stand a chance to govern remotely successfully going forward.
Mr GHK Lall is a Guyanese author, columnist and former financial analyst on Wall Street.