I write in response to Dr Vishnu Bisram’s letter, “ It is still not understood why the effort to rig the election was after, rather than on election day” ( SN 26th April 2022 ). I would have liked to deal with the rigging of the elections on election day March 2, 2020 at the level of the ballot box via ID card harvesting and phantom voting, but I don’t think my views would be published although that was what the recount process unearthed. Instead, I will challenge Dr Bisram, who earned a PhD, to deal with the question of why did Cheddi Jagan, and the PPP, keep the fruit of election rigging? Why did they keep the “ Burnham “ 1980 Constitution? I really don’t expect a PhD to regurgitate propaganda. My own views follow.
Although that Constitution was adopted in 1980 after the rigged 1978 referendum and the rigged 1980 elections, its genesis goes back to the early 1970’s. After the rigged 1973 elections Cheddi Jagan and the PPP embarked on a campaign of civil disobedience. In 1974 Burnham’s PNC declared that the PNC would embark on Cooperative Socialism. In 1975 Jagan’s PPP, which at the 1969 Congress had stated that it was a “ disciplined Marxist Leninist Party with fraternal ties to the USSR, declared Critical Support for Burnham’s PNC. In 1977 the PPP called for a National Front with the PNC and in 1978 it called for a National Patriotic Front Government between the PPP and PNC.
In March 2017 at a Carter Centre forum at UG Ralph Ramkarran said that Burnham’s response to Jagan’s call for a National Front Government was that the Westminster Constitution did not allow such a Government. In July 1978 the Referendum to end all referenda was held and rigged and thus pushing elections to 1980. In 1978 the drafting of the 1980 Constitution began. One can safely say that it was to accommodate the National Patriotic Front Government between PNC and PPP which Cheddi Jagan had called for. However in public Cheddi Jagan and the PPP opposed the 1978 Referendum and the new Constitution which would keep the vestiges of a multi party state but in fact create a defacto one party state with an all powerful dictatorial executive Presidency as in Socialist/Communist countries such as Cuba and the USSR.
In public Cheddi Jagan opposed the Constitution and pledged to revert to the Westminster model but upon his assumption to the Presidency in Oct 1992 he kept the “ dictatorial Burnham “ constitution. The day after he was sworn I had a meeting at 8 am with Dr Jagan at Freedom House to discuss implementation of my proposed National Security Plan. He said to me, “ Don’t worry with that. The Cold War is over. I was assured that I will be allowed to rule and that I won’t be destabilised.” I asked him when he was going to scrap the Burnham Constituton and he asked me, “ Malcolm, do I look like a dictator?”
It dawned on me that Cheddi Jagan knew all along that so long as he was Communist, pro USSR, and anti American, he would not be allowed to assume power in Guyana yet he fooled his supporters into thinking that Burnham’s PNC was the cause of his failure when it was his own doing. Cheddi Jagan was the cause of rigged elections in Guyana. We can safely say that he also knew all along that the “ Burnham Constitution “ was being drafted to facilitate the National Patriotic Front Government between the PNC and the PPP yet he publicly opposed it thereby deceiving his supporters. Not only did the PPP keep Burnham’s Constituency but made it even more dictatorial with the Recall Bill. After 42 years we can see party dictators and defacto one party rule. It shows that the PPP never valued western democracy. It was all about power at any cost.
Malcolm Harripaul AA
27th April 2022