GECOM has now done the right thing – declared the PPP the winner of the March 2, 2020 elections. It has been a long wait, but GECOM has done what it should have done since the first week of March. The Guyanese people have been patient, but now GECOM has brought this shameful journey to an end. We must proceed expeditiously to swear in President Irfaan Ali.
On June 16th, 1948, seventy-two years ago, the British Police shot and killed innocent sugar workers from the Enmore Sugar Estate. The Enmore Martyrs have been honoured every year since by the leaders and members of the PPP. Far from ending the agitation of sugar workers for better treatment, the killing led to a movement that resulted in Guyana gaining independence in May 1966, about 18 years later. Far from denting the fire in people’s bellies for freedom and democracy and for human rights, the deadly bullying by the British on June 16, 1948 in Enmore inspired Cheddi Jagan to form the People’s Progressive Party. This political party has led Guyana’s struggle for freedom and democracy ever since. In 1950, Cheddi Jagan’s PPP united the races in Guyana, even if fleetingly. But the PPP also led the struggle against imperialism; the struggle for independence, which Guyana won in 1966; and led the struggle against Forbes Burnham’s dictatorship after independence. David Granger tried to re-impose Burnham-style dictatorship since 2015, and tried desperately to use the March 2 elections to restore dictatorship in Guyana. The PPP led the struggle to stop him.
The March 2, 2020 elections, therefore, have been more than an election to decide which political party will govern Guyana for the next five years. It has become a battle for Guyana’s freedom, and a struggle for democracy to survive. For more than 106 days now, David Granger’s APNU+AFC, Burnham’s PNC reincarnated, has wickedly tried to thief the elections. While they succeeded in preventing President Irfaan Ali from being sworn in for more than 100 days, we are now at a point to swear in our President. Unlike the Burnham-and-PNC rigging in the 1960s, 1970s and the 1980s, when the world stood by silently and even aided and abetted the blatant rigging of elections, in 2020, the world is standing with the people of Guyana to denounce the ugly thieving of the elections. But more importantly, Guyanese who did not vote for the PPP are standing in a united resistance to David Granger and his rigging cabal.
On June 15, the CARICOM Observer Team, the team David Granger claimed are the best interlocutors to observe the recount, the only international team Granger wanted, presented their report of the recount. They concluded that the elections were free and fair, that the recount proved that the Statements of Poll were accurate, that the PPP won the elections, and that GECOM must declare the winner of the elections in accordance with the recount figures. The Commission has now done the right thing and declared the rightful winner. The time has come for Guyana to move forward. We knew for a long time who was the winner. We now have further confirmation that the PPP won, and that Guyana’s new President is Dr. Irfaan Ali.
Guyana’s economy has been on a freefall. Sugar, the main platform for Guyana’s economy for 400 years, is on its deathbed. The rice farmers have kept rice alive and provided the Granger government with a lifeline. Mining and local businesses are struggling. OIL is here, but with low price, oil is not making up for the losses Guyana has suffered. In fact, with flaring of gas, Guyana is squandering our carbon credits and, therefore, the loss in carbon credit is far more than we will presently earn from oil. While the economy is reeling, Guyana’s macro-economic framework is also under assault. Our debt has risen faster than at any time since 1990. We have accumulated more than $US1B in new loans in the last five years. At the same time, Guyana’s reserves have been totally exhausted. From more than $15B gold reserve, Guyana is now near zero. From almost $10B in local currency reserve, Guyana squandered it all and accumulated an overdraft of almost $100B. We cannot account for $US18M EXXON bonus. We cannot account for $30B GUYSUCO loan. There is an ugly trail of corruption. Health, education, housing, water, electricity and security are all in trouble. Guyana is itself sick. We need to move on. The last five years have squandered all our gains since 1992.
The swearing in of President Irfaan Ali is therefore not only the right thing to do, because he won the elections, it is critical to ensure Guyana has a chance to recover in a reasonable time. With President Irfaan Ali leading his new Cabinet, Guyana has a chance to breathe again. Sugar, on this significant day, the Enmore Martyrs Day, can breathe again. The economy, with OIL, is now going to be flourishing again. We are about to begin a new day. None of our goals would be as significant as bringing our people together, nurturing a unity that Cheddi Jagan achieved in 1953.