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Hindsight

An Editorial Column/Blog by David Hinds on Guyana, Caribbean and African Diaspora Politics and Society

Ralph Ramkarran is Spot-On but he Omits the Fears of the Other Side

Posted January 15th. 2013

But even as I laud it I do have a problem with the column. It has to do more with what was omitted than what was said. While the gist of the column was about the PPP's fears that are rooted in six decades of history, it is, perhaps unfair, to discuss those fears outside of the PNC's and by extension African Guyanese fears. Mr. Ramkarran spends the second half of the column discussing how the PNC could address the PPP's fears and, although he did not say so explicitly, by extension the Indian Guyanese fears. Very well.

But the PNC's inability to treat candidly with its stewardship of the state is rooted in the very six-decade history that informs the PPP's contemporary behavior. Both parties and their respective ethnic constituencies share that history and have individually and together shaped it. I make bold to say that just as the PPP's behavior in office has been heavily influenced by the perception and reality of its treatment at the hands of the PNC in office, that the PNC' s behavior in office was also largely grounded in similar fears, perceived and real, arising from the PPP's 1957-64 tenure.

Mr. Ramkarran's reference to the Indian Guyanese and PPP feeling of electoral disenfranchisement is spot on. But he omits the African Guyanese feelings of disenfranchisement. Whereas Indian Guyanese suffered from elections that were rigged against them, African Guyanese suffer from the fact that the electoral system is rigged against them. The PNC stole elections. The PPP has not stolen elections in the same barefaced way, but they have barefacedly stolen the executive government.

The present government is a prime example. The Presidency was won by the PPP. But the remainder of the Executive branch, the cabinet, was not won by the PPP. The results, accepted by the three political contestants, show that the majority of voters did not vote for the PPP. But those results are not reflected in the executive branch.

I anticipate that the constitutionalists on both sides will tell me that the all-PPP cabinet is a reflection of the Presidential system whereby the President can choose his entire cabinet from his party if he wishes. But I wish to remind us that Guyana does not have a pure presidential system. Ours is a hybrid system-part presidential and part Westminster-parliamentary. And our cabinet functions in the parliamentary mode-unlike the pure presidential system where cabinet members do not sit in the legislature, our cabinet members sit in parliament.

From my standpoint, therefore, both the PPP and the PNC have fears born of our shared history of ethno-political insecurity and rivalry. Both parties' behavior in government has been largely driven by these fears. Both parties should make statements of atonement, preferably together.

 

David Hinds is a Political Activist and Commentator. He is an Associate Professor of Political Science and Caribbean and African Diaspora Studies in the School of Social Transformation at Arizona State University. His writings can be found on his website guyanacaribbeanpolitics.com. You can also listen to Dr. Hinds on "Hindsight" on Mark Benschop Online Radio every Thursday night 8-9 pm at guyanaobservernews.org