It is not clear what will be outcome of the March 2, 2020 general elections but more worrisome is when will the decision be made and whether the results be accepted by all. Both of the major parties have declared victory, and the disappointment that will eventually greet the supporters of the losing party can lead tocivil unrest considering the history of Guyana.
Since the open attempt to manipulate the results an online petition on CHANGE.ORG initiated on March 5 condemned the illegal actions of a few fraudsters and has garnered over 15,000 signatures from around the world.
Sanctions were threatened by the countries that observed the process but they erred when they stated that these would only be applied if and when an illegitimate President is sworn in. This can be months from now. The No Confidence vote defeated the Government since December 2018 but they found ways to stay in office until an election in March 2. They are still there whatever terminology is used to describe their status.
Convinced that elections results may not be forthcoming any time soon a small ad hoc group of Guyanese in Southern Ontariosince the middle of March called for personal sanctions against those who are now being described as THE DIRTY DOZEN. One does not have to be clairvoyant to perceive that delays will continue. Like so many others they fear that national sanctions will cause disproportionate harm to the most vulnerable as evidenced by the results in neighboring Venezuela. Their actions of contacting their own Governments that they elected abroad was initially met with many negative comments e.g. the people in Guyana have everything under control, they are guarding the ballot boxes, they are taking the matter to court.
With some guidance this Ontario group prepared draft letters and the attached petition to assist anyone in the ABCE and other countries wishing to contact their respective governments. In early March the city of Brampton, Ontario at the request of a few Guyanese, passed a resolution which was then sent to all municipalities in the Province supporting the call for democracy in Guyana.
International observers have been accused of bias and foreign interference in an otherwise Independent country. Guyanese live in all these foreign lands and it would be interesting to hear their views on these allegations irrespective of which party they support in Guyana.
More significant though is that the actions of these countries need to be supported and the petitions and letters that are being sent is one way of letting them know they have part of the electorate are in their corner. They must also demonstrate that they mean what they say by applying surgical like operation to the few fraudsters and also remove them from the recounting process. Wherever this power lies in Guyana there seems to be an unwillingness or inability to terminate the employment or contracts of the riggers.
Civil unrest will produce refugees to Caribbean Countries and all ABCE nations where Guyanese fled in large numbers in 1980s and again 2008. Incredible as it now seems in 1984 this tiny nation with less than one million produced more refugee claimants in Canada than any other country in the world. They are now recalling their experiences from the 1960s onwards and sharing it with their children and grandchildren for the first time.They know what it is like to flee with 80 dollars (US) or less when fundamental rights vary with party support. Their soleconcern is that democracy prevails in their land of birth not who won the elections. The draft petition makes this abundantly clear.
These ABCE countries and Caribbean neighbors do not need any more long lines at their borders. They too have limited resources and COPID-19 alone is enough to tax their health and social systems.
The initiative for personal sanctions gained momentum when Bharat Jagdeo called for similar action during his press conference on April 9, and many letters and editorials follow suit. However pleas in the media for sanctions are not enough; Governments abroad must be contacted directly to gauge the state of public opinion.
It is in the interests of all therefore that personal sanctions be applied now to the few who benefitted from fraud but who are still embedded in positions of influence. Just like a cancer given more time the disease of will spread and can be fatal.
Gecom was supposed to ensure timely and credible election results. It has failed absolutely with respect to time limits. There is a slim chance that the results will be credible but this needs the continued pressure, support and involvement of the international community. They will be more willing to act if they know they have the support of the populace within and outside Guyana.