In my travels around Guyana this month, it was generally felt that if a free and fair election were held, former President Bharrat Jagdeo would easily win the elections and return as President. Even most businesspeople feel Jagdeo would win a general election hands down once it is free and fair. But almost all of them feel the next general elections will not be free and fair as the US is opposed to the return of the PPP/C to office. They are of the view that the ABC countries, particularly the US, do not want the PPP/C to rule Guyana again unless it is completely reformed.
Most of the business community, as indeed every PPP/C supporter, feels the PPP/C won last May’s general elections but that the Embassies of the ABC countries, particularly led by the US Embassy, engineered the outcome to remove the PPP/C from office because of its anti-American and anti-UK posture. They felt the outcome was pre-determined and that is why there was no recounting of votes including in the regional seat where the PPP/C lost by one vote and there were some 50 spoilt votes that would have benefited PPP/C.
It is not clear if Jagdeo can run for another term as President, having already served more than two terms. He was initially constitutionally barred from seeking a third five-year term in 2011. But the Chief Justice, late last year, has ruled that the amendment to the Burnham constitution barring more than two consecutive Presidential terms is unconstitutional without a referendum.
The referendum of July 1978 creating the Burnham constitution was rigged, rendering the constitution itself illegal. But neither the PPP/C nor PNC (APNU) has shown any willingness to dump the constitution. The APNU-AFC coalition says it plans to appeal the CJ’s ruling and is also opposed to a referendum to approve the changes to the Burnham constitution.
The Burnham constitution is extremely unpopular, and any referendum to approve it is likely to fail miserably. Thus, both the PPP and PNC, joined by newcomer AFC, are opposed to any referendum that will curb the power of the executive.
Jagdeo is the preferred candidate by almost every PPP/C supporter, but several of them did say they do not think the US would allow a free and fair elections in Guyana that would lead to the return of Jagdeo as President or the PPP/C in office.
They do feel a reformed PPP/C, without what they describe as “Stalinists” who have been abusing the US diplomats, is likely to neutralise the US on Gecom holding a free and fair election in Guyana. Supporters of the PPP/C and the business community feel Jagdeo wants to reform the PPP/C to make it electable but that “the Stalinists” are opposed to change and are hurting the party’s chances at the next general elections.
Unless the party is reformed with the hard core elements going into retirement, it has virtually no chance at the next elections which a majority of the population feel will be rigged to keep out the PPP/C from office. People do not feel the US or UK will object to rigging as happened between 1966 and 1992; the US, UK and Canada closed their eyes to election riggings and human rights abuses during that period.