Following the 1997 General Elections, the PNC mounted massive protests through the streets of Georgetown to bring attention to what they perceived to be electoral discrepancies. These protests continued until elections in 2001. The setback this country suffered as a result is well documented.
A brief reminder will stir unpleasant memories of mayhem where people were beaten and robbed and businesses destroyed and looted. It was ugly. The populace was traumatised and the democracy which returned in 1992 was severely threatened by the irresponsible and unpatriotic actions of the PNC.
A CARICOM team of auditors audited the said elections and confirmed that it was free and fair. In an effort to appease the disgruntled PNC, the intervention of CARICOM led to another elections being held in 2001, just three years after. Our Constitution allows for elections every five years.
The PPP’s agreement for a truncated term in office, despite the findings of the audit, showed the magnanimity of that Party in the interest of prosperity and unification of country and people.
The results of the 1997 elections were never in doubt. Only the disoriented and politically ambitious section of the PNC felt otherwise. They maximised their skill of intimidation to drive fear into the hearts of peaceful and law abiding Guyanese.
Children, who are considered the leaders of tomorrow, were petrified to travel to attend school in Georgetown during that period. The PNC was relentless in their protest; protest aimed at undermining the government and to ascend to the seat of power through undemocratic means.
They showed no care and compassion for how their reckless actions were affecting the lives of their fellow countrymen and women. Their actions caused some countries to brand Guyana as being unstable and visitors were warned not to travel here.
The country was haemorrhaging much needed financial resources which become available as a result of tourism activities.
Foreign investors who were interested in investing in this young democracy were not too enthused to do so. Investments provide jobs; jobs that would have been available to the said PNC supporters.
The Party was not even interested in the welfare of their own much less that of the nation. Yet the said Party would criticise the government for not making more jobs available!
These protests mentioned were led by the then leader of the PNC, Desmond Hoyte, and his close cadres within.
One such militant cadre is the leader of the AFC, Raphael Trotman. The video and photographic archives of that period would bear this out. He was an integral part of these protests which affected the lives of thousands of innocent Guyanese.
I am sure that if Party loyalists who were involved and who may be willing to speak out will attest that he, Trotman, was probably an organiser and not just a participant.
One of the demands of the protesters including Raphael Trotman was transparency. This was in the context of their baseless accusations of electoral fraud. They demanded an audit. They were embarrassed at its findings.
Years after the death of Desmond Hoyte, Raphael Trotman having conveniently realised the trauma Guyanese experienced and endured during those seditious protests, urged the PNCR (which the PNC subsequently became) to apologise to the nation.
The Party refused and Trotman was seen as an upstart. This triggered a process of his alienation and his eventual departure from the Party. His parting was far from amicable following his challenge to Robert Corbin for the leadership. He was thrashed in the Party’s internal elections and vociferously made accusations of massive electoral malpractices which led to his ouster.
He openly questioned the Party’s electoral machinery and accused members including the leader of skulduggery.
He was integrally involved in the formation of the Alliance For Change which campaigned on the Obama-like message of change and accountability.
The PNCR leadership is still being accused of electoral malpractices following its August 2009 Congress.
Leading members who walked along with Raphael in the protests mentioned, made the accusations.
They have condemned the undemocratic practices they claim to be rampant within the PNCR.
What is clear is that despite Corbin’s victory, many who do not see themselves as sourpusses are unconvinced that the elections were transparent. Raphael shared these same sentiments when he was booted.
Many delegates at the recent PNCR Congress made public claims of being disenfranchised; being unable to cast a ballot despite their eligibility. Many provided examples of what they described as fraudulent electoral practices.
These are hard-core members of the PNCR; hard-core members like Raphael once was. Today, Raphael is in collusion with the said PNCR, the Party he and former colleagues have accused of hijacked elections. Today Raphael and members of the PNCR are marching hand-in-hand protesting against the administration.
Given the AFC’s position when they launched a few years back and their continuous call for transparency and accountability in government, how is it that its leader, Raphael Trotman, is providing tacit support to the PNCR?
Why is Raphael integrally associated with the PNCR which is being accused of a lack of transparency and unaccountability? Why is he condoning things the PNCR is being accused of; things he condemned the government for? The AFC membership must demand from their leader an explanation of his blatant hypocritical shift in condoning what the PNCR is being accused of.
Is Raphael’s position that of the AFC? If it is, then the Party itself has become hypocritical in its stance on accountability and transparency. If it’s not, then they must demand that he immediately desists from this alliance with the PNCR.
This alliance, if not sanctioned by the executives and members of the AFC, must be damaging to its credibility. Decency will demand that politicians, such as Raphael who insist on adherence to fundamental principles in a democratic society, cease their opportunistic escapades as in the case of the AFC leader. He must be made to answer why he is in bed with a Party which clearly is a far distant from democracy.
Guyanese must intensify their calls for Raphael to so explain. The AFC rank and file members must be shocked to see their leader in such an alliance.
They, who were so encouraged by the said Party to vote for change as it was so coined it, must be ruing the moment they associated themselves with the AFC.
They must be vociferous in their condemnation of their leader’s hypocritical manoeuvres. His current stance is clearly an act of hypocrisy.
If not challenged by the executives and members of the AFC, then the Party will further be classified as one that abounds with hypocrisy. Guyana is now a democracy.
The AFC has articulated that their members, which include some prominent professionals, are free to question its leadership.
This is the defining moment in putting to test this articulation. Let’s see how free the AFC membership really is in questioning and demanding an end to its leader’s hypocritical adventures. If they don’t, then it would be accurate to conclude that hypocrisy really does abound within the AFC.