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WPA ready to form “broad anti-dictatorial movement” to push for power-sharing

Last Updated on Sunday, 12 June 2022, 22:58 by Denis Chabrol

Dr. Walter Rodney

The Working People’s Alliance (WPA), to mark the 42nd assassination anniversary of its co-leader Dr Walter Rodney, pledged its commitment to help create an organised national movement to resist the “dictatorship” and create a new political order based on power-sharing.

“Such a movement should be multi-party, multi-racial and multi-class. WPA is prepared to help build that movement. Our objective in this regard is not just the offending party, but most importantly against the offending political order,” that party said as it reflects on the June 13, 1980 bomb-blast death of Dr Rodney a short distance away from the Georgetown Prison.

Back in the 1970s, 80s and early 90s, the WPA and the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) had shared the common objective of removing the Forbes Burnham-led People’s National Congress (PNC) dictatorship that had become known for food shortages, human rights violations especially against political and other opponents and rigged elections. In what had been widely regarded as the first free and fair elections in 28 years, the PPP won the October 5, 1992 polls.

While regarding electoral democracy as an “essential ingredient” in building a democratic order, the WPA on Sunday argued that an anti-dictatorial movement similar to the Rodney period “must not simply exchange one party for the other as we did in 1992, but it must strive to erase the conditions under which dictatorship thrives.”

“WPA is not surprised that since coming to office in 2020 the PPP has fast-tracked the government and State in the dictatorial direction. The manner in which it came to office in the wake of the disputed 2020 election and its agenda of domination coupled with its willingness to stretch the limits of the Majoritarian Winner-Takes-All system in the context of ethnic division provide fertile grounds for dictatorship. The willingness of some of the Guyanese elites to succumb to the pressure of political expediency also played a pivotal role in clearing the way for the current dictatorial order,” that party said.

The PNC-Reform-led A Partnership for National Unity (APNU), which is an amalgamation of other micro parties and unknown entities, has been accusing the PPP of corruption, unaccountable distribution of cash grants racial discrimination, bad governance, being allegedly aligned with the underworld , economic marginalisation of the poor in favour of its private sector allies, and the sidelining of civil society. In government, the APNU+AFC coalition had also been cited for poor governance, alleged corruption, slow implementation of transformative projects, hefty taxes, intolerance to criticism and virtually alienating its supporters.

After the controversial March 2020 general and regional elections, the WPA pulled out of the coalition amid months of complaints about the way APNU was treating its coalition partners.

The WPA indicated that the ultimate defence against foreign domination and domestic ethno-racial domination must be through power-sharing and shared governance. “We urge the leaders of the two major parties to find ways to prepare the country for this eventuality. For us in the WPA, power sharing is not about one party sharing the power of the other party, it’s about all parties sharing the collective power of
the people of Guyana,” the WPA said.

The WPA noted that Rodney was killed “by a Guyana government and State that had descended to the lowest depths of dictatorship and autocracy.”  That party asked Guyanese to remember to reflect on whether  Guyana has returned to the dictatorial government and State against which Rodney fought.

Records show that Dr Rodney had been supplied with a bomb-in-walkie talkie by then Guyana Defence Force (GDF) electronics expert, Sergeant 4141 Gregory Smith who days after the event had been flown by a GDF aircraft to Berbice, supplied with a Guyana passport in the name of Cyril Johnson. He eventually landed a job as a communications expert in the fishing industry until his death from cancer in 2002.

With the death penalty on Guyana’s law books, France had refused to extradite Smith here to face trial on the basis of a private criminal charge of murder.

Last year, the PPP Civic-led administration amended Rodney’s death records to reflect that he was assassinated, that the 1988 inquest into Rodney’s death would be invalidated because it states that he died as a result of misadventure; his children’s books, Lakshmi Out of India and Kofi Baadu Out of Africa, would be made compulsory reading as part of the schools curriculum; the National Archives would be renamed; Rodney’s grave and memorial site would be managed by the National Trust and the documents concerning the Commission of Inquiry into his death would be digitised and stored in the archives at a United States university.