“Never again!” – PPP says to “democracy’s detractors” as Guyana marks 1 year since 2020 electoral strife

0
General Secretary of the PPP/C, Bharrat Jagdeo

Statement by the PPP on the one-year anniversary of the APNU+AFC’s attempt to undermine democracy in Guyana

“Sovereignty belongs to the people, who exercise it through their representatives…” This declaration constitutes the first principle on which Guyana’s political, economic and social system is founded, as detailed by the Constitution. This sovereignty is bolstered by an affirmation of democratic values, fundamental human rights – including the right to vote – and the rule of law.

In the past year, Guyanese endured the barely-concealed mischief of the APNU+AFC Coalition, aided by elements still embedded in the Secretariat of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), in undermining our democratic values, the right to vote and the rule of law.

The Coalition’s saga of the conspiracy to steal the elections of March 2, 2020 was undertaken with the clear objective of ensuring that, ‘by hook or by crook’, power was retained. However, power for power’s sake sits on quicksand, a lesson the APNU+AFC Coalition ignored and felt that they could ride roughshod over the Constitution, the laws and the people Guyana.

The attempt to subvert the will of the Guyanese people by frustrating the finalizing of the results of the March 2, 2020 General and Regional Elections saw a five-month struggle that gave meaning to the declaration that ‘sovereignty belongs to the people’.

The APNU+AFC Coalition failed to recognize that much had changed since the 1980s and they miscalculated the power of the democratic will of the Guyanese people – the broad based democratic forces and new and young pro-democracy voices, coupled with international and regional support. The dog-whistles sounded by the PNCR-led Coalition were ignored. The activism seen undoubtedly opened up a space for a dynamism that our nascent democracy needed. Our democracy was won through struggle and its preservation demands the same.

The People’s Progressive Party (PPP) remains grateful for the stand taken by the Guyanese people, particularly our supporters, as well as the international community, in defending our nation’s hard-won democratic gains.

And we say to democracy’s detractors, never again!

To reinforce our commitment to ensure that our country is never placed in such a position again, the Party reiterates that efforts are being made in the following areas, among others:

• A Commission of Inquiry (CoI) into what took place during the March 2020 electoral process, which will be staffed by independent professionals from the international community;

• Prosecution of those who committed election offenses

• A return of professionalism to GECOM, to repair the damaged public trust and confidence in the Commission; and

• Efforts to amend the Representation of the People Act to: ensure transparency; clear methodology on how counting ballots are to proceed – including the publication of all Statements of Polls (SOPs) in the newspapers and the official gazette; and penalties for election fraud, among other issues.

Simultaneously, work is also ongoing to heal hurts and bridge divisions that were created and exacerbated during the five months leading to August 2, 2020. President Dr. Irfaan Ali has launched a One Guyana Commission. The Commission is tasked with taking practical steps to cement Guyana’s one society, encompassing and respecting the diversity from which our “oneness” springs. The Commission will also examine ways to ensure equal opportunities for education, employment and entrepreneurship, and the institutional strengthening of the existing Ethnic Relations Commission to make it more effective.

The Party notes that the persons who have engaged in profligacy and corruption, the likes of which has not been seen in our contemporary history, and were the most ardent advocates for democratic subversion are now busy trying to reinvent their public images, presenting a façade of piousness. To them we say the memories of Guyanese are not short and there will be no success in manipulating this façade into truth.

Finally, it must be stressed that central to our progress as a nation is our democracy. Prominent author, Sydney J. Harris, once said: “Democracy is the only system that persists in asking the powers that be whether they are the powers that ought to be.” This statement is underpinned by the principle of accountability – one that the PPP remains committed to as we move forward together for a better and stronger Guyana.