Guyana’s never-ending story

GUYANESE novelists like Wilson Harris have written incredibly dense, surreal and tortuous books.

But when it comes to the country’s recent election, truth is stranger than fiction.

On Tuesday, the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) blocked Guyana’s Election Commission from proceeding with a key report presented to the commission.

That report is but the latest bone of contention in a saga which has dragged on since the March election. The CCJ’s order is pending a full determination of the legal points. A virtual case management hearing took place yesterday.

At various points, officials have attempted to declare the ruling coalition, the Partnership for National Unity and the Alliance for Change (APNU+AFC) winners. At other moments, one of them after a long recount of the ballots, the opposition People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C), was deemed victorious.

It is fair to say the APNU+AFC stands accused of, at best, mismanagement; at worst, attempting to steal the election. The international community has not been shy in criticising the administration of David Granger, the Guyanese president.

Both the outgoing Caricom chairman, Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley, and the incoming chairman, St Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves, have expressed grave reservations. Ms Mottley on Wednesday slammed the Guyana chief elections officer for invalidating more than 115,000 votes in his report to the commission.

It has been a never-ending story with twists and turns, convoluted plots and sub-plots, Byzantine processes and legal labyrinths. And yet, they get nowhere. Forget Mr Harris, this rivals Game of Thrones.

Beneath all the nuanced manoeuvres is a simple reality. Guyana’s politics is one of race. This adds a dangerous charge. In its own tragic way, recourse to the CCJ underlines how the country, like so many others, has not exorcised its history.

At the same time, the CCJ case raises hope that this impasse can, at long last, end. All must abide by the court’s findings.

Those findings will have to determine, in the first place, whether the CCJ has jurisdiction to hear election matters. That’s one big preliminary issue that could resolve the affair.

At a time when Caricom itself is under pressure, it could also clarify the powers of the regional court.

Not only are Guyanese people dealing with this stalemate, but they are also weathering covid19. Once-promising hydrocarbon energy prospects have given way to a global economic crisis. An aggressive Venezuela is also knocking, this week calling on Guyana to abandon its border dispute action at the International Court of Justice at The Hague.

Nothing is straightforward now. But the last thing anyone needs is for this matter to drag on. So over to the CCJ.


"Guyana’s never-ending story"

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