The PNC-as-APNU/AFC Government, under David Granger’s leadership since 2015, has not only resuscitated the anti-democratic style of governance practised by the PNC of Burnham between 1968 and 1985, but has now actually defied the international order that frowns upon denial of democratic norms which developed since then. During the Cold War, Burnham was able to play off the two superpowers against each other and escape censure; but in the present dispensation, with the US, UK, EU, the Commonwealth, the OAS and CariCom being uniform in their condemnation of the electoral sleight-of-hand foisted on the Guyanese people by the RO of Reg 4, Clairmont Mingo, it is impossible for them not to apply sanctions on any Government seized by Granger out of that fraud.
Granger’s efforts to give lip service to “observing the constitution” and “allowing institutions such as GECOM to function independently” have not fooled anyone. He has remained mute while others under his direction and authority have continuously subverted the constitution as well as the supposedly independent institutions.
The latest ploy was to appoint his de facto second in command, Lt Col (rtd) Joseph Harmon, to head the National COVID-19 Task Force (NCTF), which gives him draconian powers through the Emergency Regulations enacted to deal with the pandemic. The NCTF, for instance, has obdurately rejected requests by GECOM to minimally increase the number of recount stations at the ACCC, even though the latter had consulted professionals to ensure it would comply with all scientifically based requirements.
But there has been a very ominous development in the region, emanating from Granger’s manoeuvres to stay in power by subverting democratic elections: the imitation of the said manoeuvres by other regional leaders, thus creating a “domino effect”. Over in next door Suriname, incumbent President Desi Bouterse has now followed Granger’s ploy to demand a recount in key constitutions once it became clear his party was losing the elections. Like Granger, Bouterse has a military background, which he used before to seize power. He also has defied international pressure, in his case, to step down after being convicted of drug trafficking and, most recently, for murdering 15 political opponents in 1982.
Before the dust had settled on Bouterse’s imitation of the Granger recount feint, there came news that Prime Minister Timothy Harris of St Kitts and Nevis had suddenly and arbitrarily withdrawn the November 2019 invitation to the OAS to observe the impending June 5th elections. He cited “COVID-19 quarantine protocols” as the reason for the withdrawal, and refused to relent, even though OAS Secretary General Almagro noted, “OAS/GS regrets that a practical solution was not put in place, like was the case in Suriname, to allow our observers to deploy; but is respectful of the sovereign decision.”
This is eerily reminiscent of Granger’s refusal to allow the Carter Center to return to observe the recount; which is the consummation of the March 2 elections, and for which they had been granted observer status. He used the same COVID-19 excuse, even though the Center was willing to observe the protocols used to allow other entries into Guyana during the lockdown.
Opposition Leader and head of the St. Kitts & Nevis Labour Party, Dr Denzil Douglas, stated that he is concerned that something sinister is being planned. “The electorate, citizens and residents, civil society, Caricom and friendly countries of the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis must be informed of this latest development in the saga of the outgoing Harris administration’s attempts to hold on to power in the face of a sure defeat at the polls on June 5.”
The Caricom Observer Mission is in Guyana, and its members are performing a yeoman task, not only for Guyana, but for the entire region, in the cause of the preservation of democratic values which all emanate from free and fair elections that give life to the meaning of “government by the people”. But the Caricom Heads of Government should not wait for a fait accompli before denouncing the fruit of the poisoned Mingo tree.