After five months of waiting, the elections results were declared by the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) on Sunday and a new President, Dr Irfaan Ali, was subsequently sworn in as the ninth Executive President of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana.
Many Guyanese certainly are feeling a sense of relief as they have waited an extremely long time and with much patience for this process to come to an end. GECOM Chair, Retired Justice Claudette Singh must be commended for taking a bold stand on the side of democracy. In the face of mounting pressure and threats, she has delivered. While some may say it is a bit too late, one has to understand the context in which the Chair was operating.
There is now renewed hope everywhere and the time has come for all stakeholders to put the elections behind us and work in unity to ensure that our country keeps moving forward. Certainly, these elections have caused much division in our nation. Guyana will not be able to progress if much of our time and resources have to be spent on dealing with political rancour between the two major groups.
President Ali has stated numerous times before that the results of the polls should not be only viewed as a win for his party, but as a victory for all of Guyana. He has committed to serving in the interest of all citizens, irrespective of ethnicity, political affiliation or any other consideration.
The President’s comments so far are very encouraging and we believe that once he is given the support of the various stakeholders, he will do well for the country. From what we have seen, he understands fully the challenges ahead and what needs to be done.
The President is now assembling a team to ensure that his vision for a modern and prosperous country is fully realised. The nation certainly will hold the President and his team to their promise of governing in a fair, transparent and equitable manner.
We believe that Dr Ali has entered the presidency at a very opportune time. As someone who has served in the Cabinet and the Public Service, he has been exposed to a range of challenges.
During his tenure as Minister of Housing, he performed exceptionally well. He was able to conceptualise and implement a housing drive that was viewed as a model by the Caricom region. Most importantly, his work as a Government Minister contributed to changing lives as many citizens were able to achieve home-ownership even when it seemed impossible.
The People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) has outlined a range of policies and programmes it intends to embark upon to bring relief to the country’s economic sectors, business community, and ordinary citizens who have been largely affected by the policies and programmes, or lack thereof, implemented under the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) Administration.
Among his priorities, Dr Ali has specifically pointed to the need for inclusive governance, which was included in his Party’s Manifesto. He also pointed to the stagnated economy, which was further devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic as requiring his urgent attention. It is fortuitous that economic development is the new President’s forte and it is expected he will hit the ground running in this area.
That said, we are encouraged by the fact that former President David Granger has called for peace to prevail. In order to be a responsible Opposition and serve its constituents well, the APNU/AFC would need to regroup and assemble its best candidates to represent the party in Parliament.
Additionally, our hope is that Granger and his team will do all that is necessary in the coming days to ensure that there is a smooth transition of government. It could be recalled that when the then PPP/C Government lost the elections by a razor-thin majority in 2015, the Party provided the necessary assistance to the then incoming Administration and it (PPP/C) gracefully left office.
Guyana is now once again on a democratic path. We have yet another glorious opportunity to fashion a society that is modern, inclusive, progressive and one which all citizens could be proud of. Now that our country is about to benefit fully from the revenues from its oil resources, the possibilities for development are endless.
Further, as mentioned in our front-page comment yesterday: our political and legal systems were strained but did not break: they demonstrated an abiding resilience. We must be thankful for the strength of their institutions in a nation that has just attained its Golden Jubilee and commit ourselves to continue to strengthen and build those institutions.