March 2nd: a saga to remember

Dear Editor,
A year has passed since the nightmare that was the March 2020 election. Never again must we return to such a dark period in our nation’s history. Never again! Democracy was put on trial, as we were nearly transported back to totalitarian days of the 70s and 80s. The struggle brought out the hero in some and the hypocrite in others. The former group should have their contributions recognised while the latter is in need of serious introspection.
Personally, I didn’t think the huge mess could’ve happened, but it did. I honestly felt we had come a far way from the rigged elections of 1968, 1973, 1980, 1985. I scoffed at the elders around me fearing that the PNC-led coalition would have tried to rig to stay in power. Boy, was I wrong?
A big salute to everyone who stood up for the will of the people to be heard during those dark five months. There are so many people whose names should be honoured on record but they may go down as unsung heroes. Every single person who guarded the ballot boxes and took part in the recount should go on record as champions of democracy in Guyana.

Further, how can one forget the unbiased journalists who exposed the transparent attempts to rig in favour of the Coalition? Their coverage throughout the saga day after day painstakingly must not go unnoticed. They are champions of democracy in Guyana. Every single activist who advocated for democracy to be upheld through the press or social media shouldn’t go unnoticed, as every single voice mattered.

It was beautiful to see many youths see past ethnicity and political bias to call out the attempts to rig. It was also saddening to see those who could not see past such biases, but that underscores the need for national healing. One cannot forget of course, those who tried their hardest to racialise the issue of the election as well as spread misinformation to deceive and exploit the coalition supporters. This dangerous “Trumpian” style utilized by individuals at home and in the diaspora, claiming to care about their support base should go on record. For such poisonous rhetoric showed how even free speech can be turned into a weapon against democracy. These individuals are demagogues.

However, the story does not end here. We know what is needed: Much needed strengthening of electoral laws to prevent such an incident from recurring and traumatising future generations. Also, national healing is needed. This election showed how divided we are as a nation. One half of the country was lied to and made to feel that they will be victimised if the PPP gets into power. The other half was worried of mass post-election violence that typically targets PPP supporters. There is no national unity at all here, and not only is it on the Government to put in the work to fix it, but it’s on us too. We have to embrace each other, find common areas of understanding, accept differences, and march onwards to the hope that one day we can achieve the elusive “one people, one nation, one destiny”.

Yours faithfully,
Nikhil Sankar