For all of our concern we shouldn’t be surprised that a medical emergency has brought us to the point of evaluating leadership succession in Guyana.

The highest levels of the nation’s politics bear an uncomfortable resemblance to a gerontocracy.

And this not being said to be disparaging, in the least.

Disruptive health occurrences are an unavoidable statistical consequence of life and I will hasten to add that it isn’t confined to the older population. I can attest to having suffered a major life threatening incident almost a decade ago at an age when life was supposed to be effusing and though I have no physical deficits, it was an event that drastically forced the change of the course of things…in my comparatively uncomplicated life.

There’s no solution, really, to unforeseen illness  but it does demand frank conversation and intelligent anticipation, especially when this event can potentially disrupt complicated platforms, as in National Leadership.

For its period as an independent nation, Guyana has had its leadership changes occur after finite events and these were handled, in orderly fashion, by express agreements- the dictates of Constitution. But it’s just as important to establish a readiness to shift political norms to take more seriously some elemental realities of human aging that the Constitution does not cover. 

Let’s be clear. Demeaning statements about politicians just because of their age are unequivocally indefensible. Some politicians are marked by knowledge of their political craft and their intellectual predisposition, even tangential statesmanship, acquired through age and experience, making them bastions of knowledge on political content and manoeuvers, all of which place them well above their younger counterparts.

There is, on the other hand,  chasmic difference between age and experience and old and obsolete, the latter occurring too frequently and to the peril of good governance within this Administration.

We should address these matters without rancor or cruelty, but also without euphemism or undue reticence.

People’s well being depend on it.

The matter at hand is the Presidency and who will execute those duties in the event of President Granger’s health being unable to sustain the heavy burdens inseparable from the office of President. We say this without disregard for Mr. Granger but with the urgency of proactivity that is necessary for the nation and that we’re confident he would appreciate.

Jagdeo’s continuous pruning and amending of the Constitution was tantamount to a Constitutional coup since the voice of the Opposition meant nothing under the Parliamentary construct of a unicameral House. He won the right to amend by virtue of being the larger portion of Parliament and judging by the hundreds of amendments he made that had no national positive impact, it was prudent to see this as forewarning of the replacement of an already fragile democracy over which a PPP autocracy had been supplanted for more than two decades. 

Alarm was due; change was dire; the Accord was necessary.

This Cummingsburg Accord now has to be evaluated for current viability.  The line of succession drawn back in 2015 was a strategy we saluted as a necessary path to backhoeing a PPP Government that was dedicated more to Partisan and personal, than National success. It was crafted on the concept of shared leadership which was distributed in proportion to member- number.

The lack of a succession plan within individual entities – each of its composite Parties- is now the acute problem of the day.

And it should be addressed in the context of the birth of the Coalition …protecting those who voted for them by ensuring leadership by the party voted for by the majority, continues.

We’re not a cheering squad, political action group, an advocacy platform, or members of any political Party. We are, though, palpably concerned about the country’s leadership, like so many others and choose to offer an opinion that is honest and raw. Doing this may cause some discomfort. But discomfort is often a motivator, a rebuke to smugness, a prod to thinking beyond standard perimeters, a spur for those who feel their commitment to the electorate ended with them taking seat in office.

This is not about being gratuitously insulting or  disrespectful to anyone’s designation.

It is about the current state of affairs.

Vice President Nagamootoo is the official number 2 man but respectfully, we submit Mr. Nagamootoo has been, essentially, ineffective in his portfolio of day to day oversight and consequently, hasn’t garnished the confidence of the larger portion of those who would vote  or support Coalition.

There is speculation that Minister Harmon will ascend to the presidency, executively. But respectfully, we submit that will be too polarizing a choice, since his political persona is seen to be lacking of the requisite humility and the overall integrity that would satisfy the larger portion of the electorate. His defeat in the race for Party leadership, say many, is testament to the political capital they are prepared to invest in him and they extend that sentiment to the other defeated contender.

Sights remain set on Second VP, Carl Barrington Greenidge. We’ll be the first to salute Carl’s extensive qualifications, all of which indicate professional gravitas and detail expansive experience on both national and international platforms. 

And though we do so citing his relative lethargy, as it pertains to his current portfolio on Diaspora Integration, vital to the country’s repair and restoration, we’ll say with comparative confidence that Carl should consider saving the Coalition by assuming the President’s portfolio – especially since it would not be a Constitutional violation but an agreement amongst members of a Coalition that must now be bigger than the sum of its parts. 

Five decades post-Independence, when politicians have yet to move the country past identity politics and Party members still leak surreptitiously recorded internal meetings in a jostle for prominence – we see Carl as a counterweight to these lesser contenders, mostly because of his established qualifications and largely because he has a Partisan following that still remembers the third -count of ballots that resulted in his narrow loss to Leader Granger

Guyanese have long placed their hope for Democracy on a mass movement of civil stoicism, with individual acts of heroism and defiance gradually emboldening a hopeless but disgruntled people into newly wakeful action. Decades of political conditioning have made going to the polls a ritual to exercise tribalism for those who go and those who don’t, accept the lack of everything as just life. Civil stoicism got the chance to become activism when voters came together to eject the plotters of Dictatorship in 2015 and have averted what had taken root under the Peoples Progressive Party. There was a quiet celebration of pride by those who voted and the hope was that this Coalition would keep its message a national one, thereby, chipping away from the cults to bring those with more national views to the center.

Lots have ground to a halt since 2015 but the political gods are still on duty. 

The Coalition’s commitment at this point should not be to descend into a state of clumsy haphazardness, should there be need to present a leader on short notice but should be to commence the process of meticulously crafting the presentation of such a substitute now

There’s really not too many outcomes available for this one.  


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