The Truth of the Matter with Dr. David Hinds
One of the big news items that has been circulating these last few weeks is the PPP’s demand for recognition by the APNU+AFC coalition. The PPP wants that recognition before it engages the Leader of the Opposition. The first thing that is wrong with that scenario is that there is no constitutional requirement that the Leader of the Opposition must recognize the government before the president meets with the holder of that office. Second, the APNU+AFC has done nothing to de-recognize the government. It has not made the country ungovernable; it participates in the work of the National Assembly. Third, the president was willing to meet with former president David Granger who is the leader of one of the parties he claims does not recognize him and his government.
The truth of the matter is that the PPP does not want the APNU+AFC’s recognition. The sum total of the PPP’s tactic is consolidation of dictatorial rule and political extortion. In pursuit of this outcome the PPP is after three things. First, it wants the opposition to officially say that the PPP was properly elected; that the 2020 elections were credible. Second, it wants an official endorsement of its governance since taking office. Third, it wants to use the APNU+AFC’s inevitable rejection of its unreasonable demand to shut out the opposition from its constitutional role in governance, thus allowing the PPP to govern as a one-party dictatorship.
Giving the 2020 elections its endorsement is a non-starter. The Coalition has petitions before the courts that argue the opposite. You cannot agree to be installed in office as a result of a disputed election and then seek the endorsement of the “loser” afterwards. Further, after carrying blows to the supporters of the opposite party and seeking to humiliate that party, you are foolish to believe that they would give you cover. As it relates to governing without the input of the opposite party, that is the PPP’s bread and butter. They believe that ultimately that tactic would break the PNC’s constituency. It is partly grounded in notions of ethno-political domination,
Legitimacy is not granted by a party—it comes from the people. For a government to have legitimacy, a wide cross-section of the population must recognize its right to govern. At the best of times a one-party government in Guyana is denied that luxury. So, the PPP knows that after being installed in office in a disputed election and given its brutal form of governance since taking office, its legitimacy will not be recognized by half of the population. It therefore wants to coerce the Coalition to act as a proxy for its supporters and in the process betray their collective will. The choice it gives the Coalition is this—betray the will of your supporters or be excluded for your constitutional role in government.
The PPP cannot want it both ways and should not be allowed to get it both ways. During the impasse last year, I joined those who felt that instead of installing a winner, the two sides should work towards a political solution. I was sure that the installation of a winner would solve nothing and lead to trouble. This is what I said: “Mr. Granger and Mr. Jagdeo need to start talking about Guyana’s future—at least the immediate future. Maybe because we have been able in the past to dodge the inevitable, the leaders are somewhat flippant about the effect the last eight weeks have had on the society and beyond. Studies have shown that the scars of these moments of crisis tend to persist beyond the moment.”
Yes, I was prepared to sacrifice the consequences of declaring a winner of a disputed election for the greater good. Democracy does not flow from an election that rewards one infraction over the other. But the PPP, the diplomatic community and some innocent Guyanese preferred a winner of a deeply flawed election to a political solution. When I realized this is what they were going force on Guyana, I said this: “I do not mean to disrespect the voices which are shouting for free and fair and democratic elections, because I respect most if not all of those persons. But I have to ask—what do you want from Guyana. Do you want blood from stone? I do not want to dismiss these Guyanese, because they mean well. But I cannot join their bandwagon. It leads to nowhere—absolutely nowhere. Well, not really. It leads to the coronation of a one-party government of one side—one race- just as it did in 1992 and to some extent in 2015. Yes, nobody cares where their free and fair elections democracy takes us. Just count the votes, declare a winner, and proclaim a victory for democracy. And what happens after that is not their business-never was and never will be their business. Their concern is with free and fair elections and their newfound slogan—the rule of law.”
When I wrote those words, I was thinking about today. Mr. Jagdeo rejected the call for the two leaders to talk; he said declare the PPP the winner and they will talk after. GECOM and the Regime Changers followed or endorsed his advice. The PPP got power. The Revengers got their revenge on the Coalition, The Regime Changers got the government they preferred. The Indian Supremacists got their God-given right fulfilled. They cared nothing about April 2021.
So, after nine months, where are the talks Jagdeo promised? Where is the democracy that they were shouting for last year? I suppose for some, the sum-total of democracy is the declaration of a winner. Now they want Harmon to talk with a gun to his head.
For more commentary by Dr. Hinds visit his website at guyanacaribbeanpolitics.news and tune in to his Facebook TV Show, Politics 101, on Thursday evenings at 7 pm.