New York Caribbean Institute Calls For Government Of National Unity In Guyana

News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Fri. Dec. 2, 2011: The New York-based Caribbean Guyana Institute for Democracy, (CGID), is calling for a government of national unity in Guyana.

Officials said the declaration of the preliminary results of the November 28, 2011 general elections will abate angst in the population, which was precipitated by an inordinate three-day delay in announcing the results.

On December 1, Guyana’s Chief Elections Officer Gocool Boodoo declared after three days, that the major opposition APNU garnered 139,678 votes or 40.8% of the vote – 26 seats in parliament; AFC 35,333, 10.3 % of the vote – 7 seats in Parliament and the incumbent PPP -166,340, 48.6 % of the vote – 32 seats. TUF got 855 votes and no seat in Parliament.

The ruling PPP won the Presidency based on the plurality of the vote – 48.6% but lost its parliamentary majority after losing 4 seats in the election. It faces a historic and bleak situation of a minority government, returning with only 32 seats, while the opposition APNU and AFC have 33 seats combined.

In a letter to PPP presidential candidate and President-elect Donald Ramotar, copied to the other Presidential candidates, CGID President Rickford Burke today called for unity talks. Telling Ramotar that “clearly, a 52% majority of the Guyanese electorate rejected your candidacy and the PPP at the polls.” Burke said the PPP indubitably lacks a legitimate mandate to govern Guyana with a PPP only cabinet.

“Suffice it to say that any attempt to do so will be ill-advised and divisive, and should be strongly resisted and challenged by the parliamentary majority,” said Burke.

He urged that “in the interest of the nation,” the PPP should enter into immediate consultations with the other parliamentary parties with a view to securing a modus vivendi which will facilitate a government of national unity.” This he said will foster national harmony.

He suggested an arrangement where the PPP would be awarded the Presidency; APNU Prime Minister and AFC Vice President. He also posited that under this scenario cabinet portfolios should be assigned to the parliamentary parties based on the proportionality of votes received, and that heads of government departments, agencies, State boards, etc, be appointed by the President after meaningful consultations with and approval of the Prime Minister and Vice President.

Burke suggested that once a modus vivendi has been worked out in good faith and the Parliament constituted, the constitution be amended to reflect this arrangement and contemporaneously, a constitutional Commission should be appointed to study the 1980 constitution and recommend reforms for enactment by the Parliament within a specific timeframe.

The institute’s head expressed disappointment with the election results which he said “again demonstrate a deeply entrenched predisposition to racial identity politics.” He accused outing President Bharrat Jagdeo, of exploiting this predilection by openly appealing to racial identity politics during the campaign. He called for an end to racial polarization and reminded Ramotar that “our country is now at a crossroads where the campaign ends and governing the country for all Guyanese begins.”

“It is, therefore, incumbent upon all leaders in the Guyanese polity and society, to engage in a deliberate dialogue to address the incommodious issue of politics based on race and cultural identity,” said Burke, adding that the outcome must be “constitutional enshrinement of enforceable prohibitions against abuses as well as enumerated guarantees of minority rights.” He added that “rapprochement” will strengthen Guyana’s democracy.”

“This is your moment to do something big for the country, Burke a Guyanese national, said such a move will “restore unity and good governance to Guyana,” added the CGID head.

The institute also labeled the Chairman of the Elections Commission and the Chief Election Officer “disgracefully incompetent.”