OPINION: Ow Laad! Since when has the PNC loved democracy?

Last Updated on Wednesday, 13 September 2023, 7:20 by Denis Chabrol

By Dr. Randolph Persaud, Professor Emeritus

Dr. Randolph Persaud

The following sentence by Norman Browne is so unbelievable that I did something I had never done. I asked ChatGPT for assistance in composing my narrative. Here is Browne – “The People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) has long prided itself on its commitment to democratic values and adherence to its constitution” (KN, 12/9/2023). I had to check with AI what is meant by “democratic values.” I wanted a neutral source to respond to Browne. I submit that the PNCR does not now, nor has ever satisfied any of the 10 points of democracy listed by ChatGPT.

Below are the 10 points listed by ChatGPT with my own response as to whether the PNCR has ever met them:

  1. ChatGPT – Popular Sovereignty: In a democracy, the ultimate authority and power reside with the people. They have the right to make decisions about their government and its policies.

Response – No PNCR government has ever allowed “the people” to have a meaningful say in how government is run. Instead of popular sovereignty, the PNC gave the people a slogan – “The Small Man is the Real Man” and supplemented that with KSIs.

  1. Political Equality: All citizens have equal rights and opportunities to participate in the political process. This includes the right to vote, run for office, and express their opinions freely.

Response – The PNCR has facilitated election rigging for most of its history. APNU picked up from where the old PNC left off. The younger PNC folks in APNU seem to be more election-rigging zealots than their older comrades. Winston Murray or Deryck Bernard never tried to abscond with the Parliamentary Mace.

  1. Rule of Law: A democratic system is bound by a set of laws that apply equally to all citizens, including those in positions of power. This ensures that no one is above the law.

Response – During the 28 years of dictatorship the PNC as a party was not only above the law, but also above the constitution. Party Paramountcy, remember.

  1. Civil Liberties and Human Rights: Democracies prioritize the protection of individual rights and freedoms, such as freedom of speech, assembly, religion, and the right to a fair trial.

Response – PNCR doesn’t qualify for this one. Newsprint was banned; opposition people were beaten up for speaking; there was no freedom of assembly because the police and Rabbi Washington regularly broke up meetings. I personally saw the goons break up PPP meetings, and later meetings by such groups as GUARD.

  1. Free and Fair Elections: Elections are a fundamental component of democracy. They provide a mechanism for citizens to choose their representatives and leaders through a fair and transparent process.

Response – this one is obvious. The PNCR (later with the APNU family) has rigged or attempted to rig every election they ever participated in, including some of their own party elections. I witnessed the army carting off ballot boxes in the 1973 elections.

  1. Accountability and Transparency: Elected officials are accountable to the people for their actions and decisions. This requires transparency in government activities, allowing citizens to be informed about the workings of their government.

Response – In the words of Owen Arthur – “I have never seen such a transparent effort to alter an election result.” The Hon. Mr. Arthur was referring to the PNCR-AFC attempt to rig the 2020 elections. The AFC took a short course on election rigging but graduated with distinction.

  1. Checks and Balances: The branches of government are designed to oversee and limit each other’s powers, ensuring that no single branch can dominate the others.

Response – The PNCR created a few other branches – the Party, National Service, YSM, New Nation. PNC operatives were placed at every government agency to spy on staff.

  1. Military: In a democracy, the military is subordinate to civilian authority. This prevents the military from becoming a political force.

Response – Under President the military and police and the PNC party were different sides of the same coin. Some of the skullduggery continued after 1992 as pointed out by PPP General Secretary at the recent funeral of Dr. Roger Luncheon, former HPS.

  1. Political Participation and Engagement: A democratic society encourages active citizen participation beyond just voting, including activities like joining political parties, attending public meetings, and engaging in civic organizations.

Response – Numerous opposition activists were assassinated. GAWU was punished for years simply because the sugar workers were not part of the PNC. Under PNC rule, active citizens who fought for democracy lost their jobs, were demoted, or deported to the interior.

  1. Peaceful Transfer of Power: In a democracy, leaders are chosen through periodic, free, and fair elections. This allows for the peaceful transition of power from one government to the next.

Response – easily the worse transgression of the PNCR and their comrades in the AFC. We will know in 2025 what the AFC learnt. To help steal an election, or to take ChatGPT seriously.

I hope Norman Browne takes a good look at the key points of democracy. He should recognize that appealing to his party to honor its “democratic values” is a torturous proposal because there is no such tradition. He should hand over these points to the lengthy list of names at the end of his letter to the editor cited above. Why not being with Amanza Walton-Desir?

Dr. Randy Persaud is an Adviser, Office of the President, Guyana