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Hanging in the balance

“This is the dark time, my love”

Guyanese poet, Martin Carter, wrote this lament in response to the invasion of British Guiana on October 9, 1953 by British troops.  Their task was to oust the then four-month-old elected government of Dr Cheddi Jagan, a leader with clear Communist leanings.

Martin Carter, a senior party member, was detained with other party members by the British army for three months and wrote this and other ‘poems of resistance’ during his period of detention.

Nearly 67 years later, his words resound ominously. Carter could easily have been seeing into the future to today’s Republic of Guyana when he wrote, “Everywhere the faces of men are strained and anxious.”

The results of the March 2, 2020 Regional and General Elections have not yet been declared and the future of the oil-rich, deeply ethnically divided country, hangs in the balance.

The will of the Guyanese people is not threatened by the foreign invader this time but by those Guyanese political forces who refuse to accept the validity of the results of the vote recount which ended on June 9.

The recount was witnessed by representatives of the contesting parties and a CARICOM Observer Team and certified by the Staff of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM).

Despite this, the Chief Elections Officer, Keith Lowenfield, has submitted to the GECOM a report which substantially invalidated 115,000 votes or nearly 25 per cent of the votes cast, on the basis that such votes were cast by “dead voters” and on other such spurious, unsubstantiated grounds.

CARICOM Chair, Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley, has come under fire from the Guyanese Prime Minister, Moses Nagamootoo, when she called for fairness and transparency. Standing firm on a matter of principle, she said that CARICOM must “… never avoid the truth and (never) avoid our principles.”

The Roman Catholic Bishops of the Antilles Episcopal Conference have also expressed their “alarm and dismay” in the face of a crisis that denies the Guyanese people due recognition of their political will.

They have reminded the political parties there of the tradition of “generally fair and honest elections in the Caribbean” and have called on the people of the region to pray for a just resolution to the present impasse.

Eminent Guyanese statesman, Sir Shridath Ramphal, has added his pleas to a growing number of regional and international voices when he begs his fellow Guyanese “not to allow our motherland to descend into the darkness of denial of the rule of law and regularity … not to debase ourselves by descent into the pit of lawlessness.”

The Guyana Court of Appeal has ruled on the validity of using the results of the vote recount to declare a winner. In response, an appeal has been lodged at the Caribbean Court of Justice, Guyana’s highest Court, by the Opposition PPC/C’s leader, Bharrat Jagdeo and Irfaan Ali, that party’s Presidential candidate.

In the interest of peace and justice, the people of Guyana must be granted the Government which it has elected, freely and fairly. It is their democratic right.  That right must not be endangered by any political or other entity that puts self-interest before the best interests of the country that it purports to serve.

There must be no “boot of steel (tramping) down the slender grass … and aiming at (the people’s) dream”.

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