During the recent hearings at the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) on matters relating to the December 21, 2018 No-confidence Motion (NCM), the Attorney General was reported as issuing a warning of dire and catastrophic consequences if the decision goes against the Government. His warning was in the context of a possible decision ordering elections probably with the use of the current voters’ list.
The Government is headstrong for a new list which would take months for new registration. They demanded it in what is believed to be a deliberate ploy to further delay the constitutional mandated elections which should have been held by March 21 this year. The Government backpedalled on its initial position of accepting the NCM and unleashed delaying tactics showing its desire to hold on to power with no regard for the Constitution; hence the journey to the CCJ.
Many have rightfully questioned the purpose of the seemingly chilling warning by the Attorney General. The answer lies in desperation and within the wider context of the historical political nature of the party he represents; the People’s National Congress (PNC). While some may want to question the relevance of that party’s past, history has a way of repeating itself, especially when the seat of power is at stake.
The PNC is the dominant party in the current Government; so much so that it is seen as the Government. Within its four-year rule since May 2015, the country has regressed economically; investments have dwindled; hardships have been foisted upon Guyanese; parliamentary democracy has eroded; the Constitution has been disrespected; Government’s extravagance and party paramountcy have returned and thousands of jobs have been lost as a dictatorship burgeons.
These, which unfolded even in these modern times, are no different from when the PNC was the Government for almost three decades prior to 1992. During that regime, law enforcement agencies were used as tools to instil fear and oppress. Freedom of speech was suppressed as free and fair elections. History is inundated with reports of massive electoral rigging to keep the PNC in office. That party was not unaware of its inability to win elections fairly.
The BBC produced a documentary on aspects of the riggings and photographs of soldiers removing ballot boxes are frightening reminders. In addition, party thugs were always available to unleash violence and mayhem, sometimes just for emphasis. It was all part of a deliberate process of holding on to power as the country descended into poverty as physical and social infrastructure crumbled; food became scarce with some basic items banned and non-Government media entities muzzled.
There was no regard for the devastating impact in had on the people and the country. All that mattered was staying in Government. When free and fair elections came in 1992 following robust efforts by the then Opposition, the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) and some from civil society, it was not without violence reportedly at the behest of some within the PNC. Many stores were looted and innocent citizens beaten and robbed.
This featured in subsequent elections even when the PNC became the Opposition. The atrocities, of the 1997 and 2001 elections, reportedly at the beckoning call of the PNC, can easily be researched. That is what drives fear of the PNC into Guyanese and are consequences when that party seemingly doesn’t get its way. One cannot help but ask if that’s the consequence the Attorney General was referring to during his presentation to the CCJ.
This question has not escaped Guyanese and sections of the business community have already voiced concerns over the creation of fear through the prediction of unrest by the Attorney General who is the immediate past Chairman of the PNC. On the heels of taking office in May 2015, the Government gave itself a massive salary increase while firing thousands and removing critical subsidies for water and electricity for pensioners and education grant to schoolchildren.
That is still seen as enriching and putting itself first at the expense of the Guyanese people. Its defiance of the Constitution to unilaterally appoint its Chairman of choice for GECOM and its outlandish mathematical theory for what it believes constitute a majority of voting members of the National Assembly, are just two examples within the past four years that exude shades of the PNC dictatorship in a show of scant regard for country and people.
Is the Attorney General therefore giving some sort of reminder of what can possibly happen if the CCJ ruling is unfavourable to the Government? Therein lies the wider context and relevance of revisiting history so as to better understand why the warning may have been issued; the need to hold on to power. In its quest to keep power at the expense of the welfare of Guyana and Guyanese, many today have seen their lives decline. Déjà vu?