The Guyana Election Stalemate and the Crisis of Governance in the Caribbean

By A. T. Freeman

As of the 25 June 2020, nearly 4 months after the Guyana elections took place on 2 March, the official results have not yet been issued and these are mired in an increasingly bitter struggle involving court cases, regional and foreign interference and contending claims of victory at the polls. Guyana’s Chief Elections Officer, Keith Lowenfield, has issued a report declaring the ruling coalition, A Partnership for National Unity (APNU), the winners of the elections, while the regional body CARICOM, the Organisation of American States (OAS) and the so-called ABCEU countries, comprising the USA, Britain, Canada and the EU, have all declared the opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP) the winners.

Factional Dogfight

This unsightly dogfight over the election results is clear evidence of the crisis of governance in the Caribbean based as it is on the undemocratic and outmoded Euro-centric system of ‘representative democracy’. It is also evidence of the disempowerment of the people of Guyana in the decision making that shapes their country’s destiny.

Commentators have warned that the ongoing stand-off carries with it the serious danger that the country may descend into violence, causing untold damage to the people of Guyana and their well-being.

Invasion and Occupation

The current situation, where various political forces deepen the split between Guyanese of Indian descent and those of African descent and use these to pursue their own narrow interests, is a direct result of the brutal overthrow of the elected government in Guyana by Britain and the USA in 1953. In that year, in the first elections held under universal suffrage, the People’s Progressive Party (PPP), which then united Guyanese of all backgrounds, easily won the election.  However the USA and Britain denounced the leadership of this party as ‘communists’ and organised a coup to overthrow the government. This intervention ended with the British army invading and occupying the country. In order to suppress the anti-colonial struggle of the Guyanese people, the British occupiers resorted to their infamous ‘divide and rule’ doctrine and instigated communal strife wherever they could. By 1957, the PPP had split, with the PNC, which emerged from it, seen as the political representative of the African Guyanese and the original PPP now seen as the representative of the Indo-Guyanese.

This cancerous division remains an obstacle to the Guyanese people empowering themselves and advancing their country. Those, like Walter Rodney, who have attempted to overcome it and build the people’s unity, have been assassinated. Today the APNU, which is a coalition around the PNC, and the PPP operate in Guyana to deepen these divisions among the people.  While accusing each other of promoting racism and division, they themselves have brought the country to its present crisis.    

Election Monitoring  

Another contributing factor to destabilising the situation is the so-called ‘election monitoring’. This activity which has become a global industry is a favoured mechanism through which the big powers interfere in various countries in order to elevate to power those forces that they think will best serve their interests. Depending on whether they consider the outcome of the election to serve or harm their interest, they declare it valid or invalid. Since the entire system of elections under the system of ‘representative democracy’ is based precisely on corruption, lies and manipulation of the results, it is not difficult for the ‘election monitors’ to find evidence to suit whatever outcome serves their interests. It is also evident that the recent discovery of oil in Guyana’s territorial waters is a factor that further fuels the activity of these ‘monitors’.   

The incumbent APNU has recently been denouncing the interference of the various regional and international forces in the sovereign affairs of Guyana. However, these calls ring hollow since the APNU government is itself an active member of the so-called Lima Group which has been set up by the US administration specifically for the purposes of interfering in the internal affairs of neighbouring Venezuela.

Crisis of Governance

The electoral stalemate in Guyana is another example of the crisis of governance in the Caribbean. It is evidence that the system of ‘representative democracy’ inherited from slavery and colonialism is an obstacle to the people of the Caribbean becoming empowered. A clear stand must be taken against all efforts to incite bloodshed in Guyana, against outside intervention in Guyana’s internal affairs and in support of the struggle of the people of Guyana to escape the dangerous place that various foreign and local actors are trying to drag them to.     

[Photo – David Granger, leader of the APNU and Bharrat Jagdeo, leader of the PPP]

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