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Political Scientists predict continued stalemate after CCJ ruling

Last Updated on Wednesday, 8 July 2020, 12:05 by Denis Chabrol

by Samuel Sukhnandan

There is a strong likelihood that the political stalemate in Guyana could continue if the election matter is not immediately addressed
after the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) ruling later Wednesday.

This is the view shared by two Guyana-born political scientists, Dr. David Hinds and Dr. Baytoram Ramharack. However, both men have
different views on how this issue should be approached with the aim of bringing it to an end.

Dr. Hinds, a political science professor at Arizona State University, has suggested that whoever is declared the winner should
immediately reach out to the other side to seriously discuss forming a joint government.

“I don’t think anything less than that would tone down the situation. I think after four months, understandably things are
at boiling point whether the politicians want to recognise that or not…that is the fact of the matter,” he told News Talk Radio.

The CCJ is expected to hand down its ruling on a valid vote appeal brought by Bharrat Jagdeo and Irfaan Ali of the People’s  Progressive Party (PPP) on Wednesday on the question of what are valid votes. A Partnership for National Unity+Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) supporter, Eslyn David, had convinced the Guyana Court of Appeal by majority that “more votes cast” means “more valid votes cast” and should be read in tandem with the gazetted national recount order that includes the need to reconcile the votes cast with voters’ lists, counterfoils and stubs.

Jagdeo and Ali have appealed that the decision, but the big question is whether the CCJ has jurisdiction to hear the case.

Dr. Hinds, a member of the Working People’s Alliance (WPA), a party within the coalition government, reminded that President
David Granger has made a commitment to having those talks if his party is returned to office. He said whether the PPP will
accept the offer is another matter, because they appear to be least interested in that proposition.

However, he argued that the issue has now moved past who is the winner and loser of the election.
“This is about holding Guyana together.You don’t go through four months of turmoil and stress to get an election result and think
that everything is going to be okay once a winner is declared. No! What has built up in those four months is anxiety, desperation,
a division and the only way I think at least to ease those things in the short run, is for those people to see their representatives
sitting on both sides of the divide.”

If this does not succeed, then the next route suggested by Dr. Hinds is going to fresh elections.

“The first act of the new government should be to clean up the election machinery and the voters list as recommended  by the CARICOM observer team with the aim of going back to an election in 2-3 years and I think if you do that, you will give  the electorate a sense that you are working on the problems that has gotten us here,” he opined.

In addition to that, the political scientist noted that clear policies relating to the distribution of economic wealth;  in particular oil and gas revenues must be of top priority. “If you signal those two things to the population, I think you can calm them down. And I think if the two parties do  that together, it will inspire confidence. I have little confidence that one of those parties will sit there by itself and it will get any of those done.”

Meanwhile, Dr. Ramharack, told this news outfit that he has a pessimistic view on the issue as he believes
strongly that if the CCJ rules in favour of the PPP, it will not be enough for the coalition to accept defeat even after a declaration.

“The coalition is gambling. I don’t believe we will see an end of this saga tomorrow whatever decision is made.
Because it wouldn’t be made on behalf of the coalition, they will reject it…”

Dr. Ramharack agrees that there should be discussions on shared governance once the election matter is settled. But remarked that
it cannot be a situation of shared executive power. He is adamant that it has to be something that is determined after a declaration is made.

“It cannot be something that is forced upon the Guyanese people, because the Guyanese people did not vote for that arrangement in 2020.
They voted for political parties and the party that won the election has to take a seat of power to preserve democracy and then discussion
on how to share the corn or inclusive government that has to come after,” he remarked.

The political science professor feels that if the CCJ does not rule in favour of the coalition government, they will repeat calls for new elections,  but he maintains that they should instead concede defeat if they are declared the loser in the end.