Guyana’s Elections Commission (Gecom) declared on Sunday, Aug. 2 the Indo-dominated People’s Progressive Party (PPP) the winner of Guyana’s highly disputed general elections, five months after elections day but the win for the PPP now means that Indo parties now control two of the three most resource-rich Caribbean Community countries with a third contest set for Trinidad next Monday, Aug. 10.
Suriname’s Hindustani VHP party won the most seats and the presidency in Suriname’s general elections in late May. Now the PPP has done the same in Guyana. Gecom said that, while it had recognized credible allegations of electoral irregularities, local laws state that the complaining party must take its woes to the court through a petition as the commission is not empowered to disenfranchise voters, charges the outgoing coalition of former Pres. David Granger regard as absurd even though it plans to shortly file its petition anyway.
Mohamed Irfaan Ali, 40, replaces Granger, 75, as president of Guyana. Ali was sworn in on Sunday, five months to the day that Guyanese had voted in general elections. The declaration of a winner was delayed by several court challenges by both parties and the fight now heads to a much-anticipated court petition where the coalition will be able to prove persistent allegations that Gecom had tolerated widespread rigging with the help of the U.S. and other western countries.
Meanwhile, on Monday, voters in Trinidad will have to choose between Prime Minister Keith Rowley’s Afro-dominated People’s National Movement (PNM) and the Indo-supported United National Congress (UNC) of former PM Kamla Persad-Bissessar. Polls show that the race is too close to call as whichever of the parties performs best in what is regarded as eight marginal of the 41 seats will win the elections.
In the 15-nation community of nations, Guyana, Suriname and Trinidad are the ones with the most resources. Each has abundant oil and gas resources. Trinidad also has other downstream petrochemical industries like ethanol and until recently used to refine its own oil, while the other two have large unused agricultural lands, produce bauxite, rice, gold, diamonds and timber and have established fishing sectors. If the UNC wins on Monday, it would be the first time all three Indo parties are in power simultaneously.
Be that as it may, the win for the PPP has left a very bitter taste in the mouths of coalition supporters as they are adamant that the west has played a major role in accomplishing regime change of a party it had once so favored.
It appears that the west, the Americans in particular, now prefers the PPP way more than Granger and his band. The Americans have made it clear they want to use Guyana as a military and geo political ‘beachhead’ against neighboring Venezuela. Authorities had turned down a request for the Voice of America to establish a relay station in Guyana to broadcast anti-Maduro propaganda against Venezuela while Granger was not too open to soundings about a military base in the Essequibo region near Venezuela. Former state minister Joseph Harmon referred to the situation in his departing statement on Sunday.
“The coalition in opposition will have to do everything to ensure respect for our territorial integrity and oppose through all means possible any attempt to use Guyana’s territory and/or assets as a staging ground to destabilize neighboring states.”
For his part, new President Ali vowed to be a president “for all Guyanese. We are in this together. We are not separated by class, ethnicity, religion or political persuasion. We are united in the true Guyanese spirit. Guyana is better because of your efforts. Guyanese will have a brighter future because of your efforts,” Ali said after being sworn in.