CaribWorldNews, NEW YORK, NY, Fri. July 30, 2010: Four opposition political parties in Guyana have joined together to form `The Joint Opposition Political Parties,` grouping, a move seen by some as positive and auguring well for the future of the country, similar to the success achieved by the joint union in Trinidad and Tobago led by Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar.
But Guyanese-born Assistant Professor of Caribbean and African Diaspora Studies at Arizona State University, David Hinds, says while such an outcome is `quite possible,` it certainly will be much more difficult to achieve in Guyana.
Hinds told CaribWorldNews yesterday that unlike the situation in Trinidad and Tobago, where the United National Congress and the Congress of the People were willing to bury their differences in pursuit of the common good with the COP acknowledging the seniority of the UNC, the Alliance For Change in Guyana has already shown it is not willing to do so.
The Peoples National Congress Reform, the Working Peoples Alliance, the Guyana Action Party and The National Front Alliance this week announced the collaboration, adding that the other opposition party, the Alliance For Change, declined to join in, ruling out any possibility of an alliance with the main opposition PNCR.
The other parties, however, say they will move ahead despite the AFC`s decision and contest the next election as a group.
Hinds says this seems to suggest that the AFC either believes that it can win the election on its own or is not serious about partnership. And he insisted: `There can be no credible opposition partnership without the PNC.`
He added that even if the AFC is on board a joint opposition slate, it will still have an uphill task.
`It is much more difficult to get Indians to vote against the incumbent PPP/Civic than it was to get Africans in Trinidad to vote against the PNM,` said Hinds. `Indians in Guyana have less overt incentive to abandon the PPP. The fear of African domination is widespread while there is a silent constituency that is not necessarily opposed to Indian domination. Racial animosity is much more poisonous in Guyana. Further, the PPP is adept at playing the race card, especially at election time.`
The professor added that there are other hurdles the grouping will have to overcome, such as convincing African Guyanese to register and vote in large numbers, wresting the Amerindian vote from the PPP, agreeing on a consensus presidential candidate and on whether members of civil society comes on board.
`So in a nutshell, opposition unity would have to be total,` said Hinds. `The parties have to act in a mature manner and rise above narrow partisan concerns and the have to do so well in advance of the election. The longer they have to build a movement and raise the political momentum the better their chances will be.`
Hinds insisted that his own preference is for a joint opposition whose thrust goes beyond elections, that treats the election as a means to the desired end of a Government of National Unity.
`So that even if the joint opposition loses the election, it uses its votes as a critical mass to mobilize and agitate for a constitutional mechanism that facilitates a power sharing government, which ideally should include the PPP,` he said.