Barbados looks on with interest as Opposition coalition takes charge in Guyana
Coalition leader David Granger was expected to take over as President of Guyana, after his grouping of six opposition parties was today declared winner of Monday’s general and regional elections.
The coalition’s victory has brought to an end over 22 years of rule by People’s Progressive Party/Civic, which is so far refusing to accept the outcome of the poll.
However, based on preliminary results announced earlier Thursday by the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), the opposition alliance, comprising A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) and the Alliance for Change (AFC), polled 206,817 votes compared to 201,457 for the incumbent PPP/C.
This effectively means that the APNU/AFC amalgamation – which also includes the former People’s National Congress that previously governed Guyana for 27 years – will have a slender majority in the National Assembly.
However, in an interview with Barbados TODAY, Guyanese-born former regional diplomat Sir Ronald Sanders said he expects that the coalition, which has successfully sought to bridge the racial divide between the country’s Afro and Indian population, will still manage to function.
Sir Ron, who currently resides in Barbados, noted that while the alliance was expected to have a Black president in Granger, it would also have an Indian prime minister in Moses Nagamootoo, as part of a multi-racial government.
However, despite its clear majority, which the previous Government, led by Donald Ramotar did not have, he is warning the new administration that the road ahead will not be an easy one.
“When you look at what has happened, the new APNU/AFC coalition won this election by just 5,000 votes, so I don’t think that it is an indication that the overwhelming number of Guyanese are fed up with the policies of the PPP,” said Sir Ron, pointing out that Guyana remains divided in terms of its political support.
In fact, he argued that were it not for the coalition of the APNU and AFC, the PPP may very well have won this election again.
Pointing out that there was no real difference in terms of the outcome of this election compared to the previous one, he further suggested, “the deep rooted difficulties and differences that have always existed are still very much there”. Therefore, he expects that a significant strain will be placed on the new Government early on, given the sectional interests in Guyana.
Sir Ron also commented on the country’s electoral system, which he said, had stood up to its latest test, proving to the world that “democracy was alive and well Guyana”.
The former diplomat also praised his compatriots for their conduct in the immediate aftermath of the May 11 poll, while noting that there was only one real instance of violence to speak of over the past two days, as the country anxiously awaited the electoral results.
Sir Ron therefore anticipates that the transition to a new administration will be a peaceful one, even though the incumbent PPP/C is currently demanding a recount of all votes cast in the election.
Asked about the impact of the poll on Barbados specifically, Sir Ron said he did not expect any immediate repatriation of Bridgetown-based Guyanese, but with the economy in Georgetown currently booming, and given the possibility of an oil find there, he said the future looked very promising.
“That could cause the economy to boom even more than it has been so far, so that means jobs will be created and once work is there, I think Guyanese will head for it,” he said.
Just recently the International Monetary Fund (IMF) released its regional growth projections, putting Guyana ahead of Barbados with a 3.8 per cent forecast for this year and 4.4 per cent for next year.
By comparison, the IMF predicts that Barbados will only grow by about one per cent this year and 1.6 per cent next year.
Today, other Barbados-based Guyanese and other interests reacted to the news of the election results.
In a brief comment to Barbados TODAY, political scientist Peter Wickham welcomed the result saying, “A unity government in a society that is racially divided is an excellent thing for their own development. I think it is indeed the best outcome for Guyana”.
Cecil Williams, a Guyana-born businessman operating a transportation company here for the past 30 years, also described the coalition as “the right mix for taking Guyana forward”, explaining that “it is a government of national unity, it means they have inclusion of all races”.
Kim Medford, who left the Guyana shores 20 years ago and operates a hostel for overseas students here, said the coalition’s win was pleasing.
“Even though I am not there, we outside bear a unique burden because of the constant aspersions of Guyana having so much natural resources but so poor. So now I hope the coalition can deliver on their campaign promises and take Guyana to the place it should have been.
“Guyana has a long road to recovery, I’d dearly love to offer my services in any capacity to the coalition,” she said.