Guyana headed for dictatorship

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Below is an editorial published in today’s edition of the Jamaica Observer

President Donald Ramotar.
President Donald Ramotar.

Guyana is a country where democracy has traditionally been weak; indeed, for long periods political manipulation has just barely masked some form of dictatorship.

The history of Guyana shows a consistent unwillingness to accept the will of the people as expressed in free and fair elections. The root cause of the undemocratic tendency is the unabated tension between the two ethnic groups, the Afro-Guyanese and the Indo-Guyanese. This persistent, pandemic and virulent racism has become even more perverted and vicious because both tribes see control of the state as a means of distributing scarce benefits in a very poor country.

This practice of racial exclusion from the scarce benefits derivable from the state spawns social and political polarisation.

Guyana has a National Assembly which is a unicameral legislature of 65 members of which 25 members are elected from 10 constituencies by proportional representation and 40 members are chosen also on the basis of proportional representation from national lists named by the political parties.

The president is elected for a five-year term on the basis of parliamentary elections which were last held on November 28, 2011. The president is not directly elected. At the time of elections each party presenting a slate of candidates for the assembly must designate a leader who will become president if that party receives the largest number of votes.

The current situation is that the Indo-Guyanese-controlled People’s Progressive Party won 32 seats in the 2011 election and has formed the Government under Mr Donald Ramotar. A coalition of opposition groups, including the People’s National Congress dominated by Afro-Guyanese, and the Alliance for Change, controls the majority of 33 seats in parliament.

The opposition coalition on August 7, 2014 delivered to the clerk of the National Assembly a motion of “no confidence” against the Government of Mr Ramotar, who knows that this will succeed and new elections will be necessary.

Since the announcement of the intention to have a vote of “no confidence” he has refused to convene a sitting of parliament. Now in a move which undermines the democratic process, Mr Ramotar has prorogued parliament for six months, a move some suggest can be repeated until elections are constitutionally due. This would certainly provoke a constitutional crisis.

His specious justification for this undemocratic act is a transparent farce, claiming that proroguing Parliament was his “sole recourse” to preserving the life of the current Parliament and to bring an end to the opposition’s “political gamesmanship”.

Mr Ramotar also gave the “assurance” that the six months’ prorogation would be used to engage the parliamentary opposition in “constructive ways”. He further stated that if no agreement for “normalcy” was reached, then he would have no choice but to hold early general elections.

All this is clearly intended to maintain himself in power and delay elections as long as possible.

Meanwhile, he has done his country considerable reputational damage. To deliberately create a situation in which the executive is exercising power without a functioning parliament is a subversion of democracy. It is tantamount to the conversion of an elected president into a de facto dictator.

6 COMMENTS

  1. DIS BWOY NAT OVERSTANN DI PALITICS IN DIS CANTRY. HIM SHOULD LAARN DAT DI CANSTITUTIAN DAT GIVE DI PRESIDENT DIS POWER WAS APPROVED BY OVAR 80 PARCENT OF DI VOTARS. SO WHAT HIM WANT DI PRESIDENT FI DO? CHANGE DI CANSTITUTIAN AND DIS REGARD DI VOICE OF DE PEOPLE? NEVAR! DI PRESIDENT RIGHT FI USE DI POWAR FI DI BENEFIT OF HIM PEOPLE DAT GIVE HIM DAT POWAR . YUH GET DAT MY BWOY? DAT IS ALL I MAAN HAVE FI SAY FUH NOW.

  2. Toni..de ppp was elected by the guyanese people..pnc was selecred by the white bois of england and america..what the peoplespresident did was in in your mind illegal? if u say yes then the PNC was legally elected by 75% and 80% of the guyanese masses..how else to make you come out of your sadness? ok i tell you what…i will tell ppp to win the election and install a pnc to be president.

  3. well dem jammy bana dem miss bornham kit n kin…dem dont like the leaders of guyana and trini ..why? not kit n kin..
    all this trash could have been avoided…how you asked?
    ramjataha did not say he know 3 MPs were being bribed with 30Mil to vote yes confidence..
    Graingurr came out an slam he right away huffin n puffin that none ah he people ent deh in duh..
    If de ppp de done meck de deal wid de 3 MPs for 30Mil each why would ppp shut down parliament?
    yall big dummies dont know poor old man Graingurr was grabbed by his balls again by Ramjataha….
    Ramjataha did it to Graingurr in Linden and do it to he again..
    Thank you Ramjattaha for squishing Graingurr balls again..
    Graingurr is living proof that he is only order taker of Bornum…
    Graingurr ent too brainy period..
    PNC need new young blood to be a vibrant opposition..
    Did anyone say PNC James Bond? rule he out right away..
    The PNC 007 is in the Mooklall tape saying something incriminating so the mookster gat he by he balls to.

  4. I think that is the opinion of the writer. It is trash. I don’t think that the party is Indo-Guyanese own, it is all Guyanese Government. Guyanese Indians suffer no matter who rules the country. Why didn’t the writer comment when the Opposition stop the Government from building a specialist hospital for the sick Guyanese people. Was he asleep? He preaching racists talk. I don’t support that talk.

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