February 27 ,2020
On Monday March 2 the Guyanese people will vote in an election called as a result of a no-confidence motion that was successful because of the defection of MP Charrandass Persaud. The defeat of the Coalition government was not expected and should not have happened. The no-confidence motion was ill-advised and a betrayal by Mr. Persaud. However, the Guyanese people well know the CCJ’s ruling on the matter and in a few days will give its verdict on that no-confidence motion and, more importantly, the performance of the Coalition in its first term. The coalition took over from the PPP/C after a 23-year run that started magnificently with the election of the highly respected Cheddi Jagan as president. Jagan was a principled socialist strongly committed to democratic principles and a very decent human being. The country made significant progress under his guidance as the economy grew and the standard of living improved partly as a result of debt forgiveness and a new sense of hope. However, the death of Cheddi Jagan towards the end of his term in office led to new leaders taking over the PPP and that party losing its ideological grounding. Jagan’s widow took over the presidency that eventually went to Bharrat Jagdeo and then Donald Ramotar whose government was defeated by the coalition in 2015. By that time some of the PPP’s top leaders had left the party. Moses Nagamootoo became Prime Minister in the coalition, Khemraj Ramjattan became a minister and Ralph Ramkarran is now contesting in a new party ANUG.
The Jagans’ only child resident in Guyana is now a fierce critic of the PPP and is campaigning with the coalition as it seeks re-election. The departure of these four former PPP stalwarts and others underline the decline of the party from a principled socialist movement to an opportunistic grouping lacking in principles and being heavy-handedly led by Bharrat Jagdeo. This culminated in the selection of Irfaan Ali as the presidential candidate for the March 2 election. That this was a retrograde move would be an understatement. Ali was the architect of the Pradoville scam and is facing 19 criminal charges serious enough that the Canadian Government has barred him from visiting that country. Moreover, his academic qualifications have come under severe criticism with claims that they are fake. His resume is full of online diplomas and a highly suspicious degree from a non-existent school on the West Coast of Demerara. Many traditional PPP supporters will have difficulty voting for a ticket headed by Irfaan Ali. However, even if he had no baggage he would not have been a better candidate than the incumbent David Granger.
The PPP has been desperately trying to paint the Coalition as being incapable of running the country but nothing could be further from the truth. The economy has grown under the current government, unemployment has fallen slightly and corruption in the public sector has decreased. On the latter: in its 2019 ranking of countries Transparency International singled out Guyana as having made significant strides in reducing corruption. And most significantly the Coalition oversaw the rapid development of Guyana’s new oil and gas industry. This has the potential to contribute to a dramatic improvement in the standard of living of the Guyanese people as several global agencies have projected Guyana to have the fastest growing economy in the world in 2020. Moreover, President Granger has been a good, courageous and dignified leader who despite having to fight a bout with cancer and the no-confidence motion has emerged as the person best positioned to manage the new revenues flowing from oil and gas. Additionally, the Coalition’s record in government has been well above average. Therefore, from this writer’s perspective, it would be wise for the Guyanese electorate to return President Granger and the Coalition to government.
Jang B. Singh, Ph.D.