A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) accuses the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) of degrading Guyana’s democratic institutions. APNU calls on the PPP/C to practise the democracy of which it has been boasting at a rash of rural rallies to celebrate the party’s 21st anniversary in office. The PPP, at the national level, wrecked the hopes and work of former US President Jimmy Carter who complained that, instead of attaining the goal of inclusive and shared governance, “the Guyanese government remains divided with a ‘winner-takes-all’ concept that continues to polarise many aspects of the nation’s life.”
The PPP’s obsession with controlling autonomous institutions was documented in the report of Sir Michael Davies, the Commonwealth’s Senior Parliamentary Staff Advisor to the Guyana Parliament. Sir Davies exposed the PPP devices to diminish parliamentary democracy and undermine the Assembly’s independence.
He revealed the fact that “meetings of the [National] Assembly are entirely at the whim of the Executive,” that both the staffing and the budget of the National Assembly are controlled by the [PPP/C] Administration and that the work of the committees “is subject to frustration by the Executive.” He criticised the practice of submitting parliamentary Order Papers for sittings of the National Assembly to the Office of the President which, he says, “can and does strike out questions and motions which the Office [of the President] does not like.” That practice, he added, “apparently only started in 1992.” This is an example PPP despotism.
The PPP, at the local level, destroyed democracy and disempowered communities. Ganga Persaud, Minister of Local Government and Regional Development, has methodically dismantled neighbourhood democratic councils. He has installed unrepresentative, hand-picked, pro-PPP interim management committees against the wishes of local residents. The PPP is on an undemocratic campaign to prevent local government entities from functioning freely. It has discredited existing councillors with bogus ‘investigations’, invented pretexts to remove the remaining elected officials and replaced them with placemen.
President Donald Ramotar’s decision to withhold assent to the four local government bills – the Local Government Commission Bill, the Local Government (Amendment) Bill, the Municipal and District Councils (Amendment) Bill and the Fiscal Transfers Bill, therefore, is part of a 21-year tradition. It is only the latest expression of the PPP’s contempt for local democracy. This contempt explains why Bills passed on 7th August still had not been presented to the President by 7th October.
The PPP continues, to this day, to damage, diminish and disparage important institutions and organs such as the Office of the Ombudsman and the Public Service Appellate Tribunal which are intended to protect the public from “executive lawlessness.” It manages the Government Information Agency (GINA) and National Communications Network (NCN) as if they were party propaganda media units.
The PPP has consistently degraded democracy during its 21 years in office. It is the Opposition’s obligation in the National Assembly to put an end to such degradation.