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Tuesday, May 02, 2006
The government must accept the existence of the African Guyanese Armed Resistance and seek to negotiate a truce

Sunday, April 30th 2006 (Stabroek News)

Dear Editor,

Readers of the letter columns would have noted my absence from public discussion over the last four months. This was a deliberate self-imposed withdrawal, partly to protest the assassination of Ronald Waddell, to give myself some time to reflect on the political developments in Guyana and the direction that the country is likely to go in the light of Waddell's execution and to examine the developments surrounding the upcoming elections.

I believe that it is necessary on occasions for political people, whether in the opposition or the government, to step back and reflect both on the internal dynamics in the country and their own political positions, actions or interventions in the evolving process. I was tempted on at least four occasions since my withdrawal from the ongoing public debates to break my self-imposed silence but I studiously resisted my inner urgings to do so that is, until now. It took the recent execution of Minister Satyadeow Sawh to make me rethink my position and rejoin the public debate.

It is difficult and even risky to attempt to make political analysis or offer suggestions on possible solutions to our worsening national crisis at a time when those in power are wounded and feel very insecure. But, in politics, risks are inevitable hazards which serious political people, at critical junctures in the political life of the nation, have to take for the sake of the country. Very often in politics and, particularly in moments like the present situation which Guyana is faced with, it is possible for political space to open, which if handled properly, can have the effect of saving a country and its citizens from more pain, death and destruction.

I am well aware, and this is based on my previous experiences, that anything I say will be treated by the rulers as the utterances of a political nonentity whose insignificant political voice is of no consequence. I however believe that even in spite of this I have a responsibility to the nation to do whatever little I can, in the interest of peace and stability for Guyana and all Guyanese.

It is important to revisit the most controversial political action that I have taken - the declaration that there exists an armed resistance, which I called the African Guyanese Armed Resistance to distinguish it from the other forms of African Guyanese Resistance to the ruling PPP/C Administration. Readers will recall that when I proclaimed my view of developments in Guyana, many of my detractors were brutally dismissive of the observations I had dared to publicly enunciate.

Some branded me racist, others called on the authorities to charge me and even some of my comrades accused me of political recklessness. I am sure that over time, a lot of those who previously disagreed with me have had second thoughts. However, pride will not allow them to publicly disclose that they have arrived at a new thinking which distances them from the positions they held earlier.

By now it should be clear to all that the government's and ruling party's approach to the existing reality - to deny the existence in Guyana of a political armed resistance and preferring instead to talk of crime/criminals and gang warfare, in an attempt to hide the obvious - is counterproductive, and has contributed more confusion than clarity to our understanding of the elements involved in the crime/security crisis in the country.

I have always argued that Guyana's rulers are aware of the political dimensions of the crisis but that they have chosen what they have considered as the easy way out. They have resorted to labelling everything that is taking place as simply crime. The attraction of this approach from the government's standpoint was that politically, it did not have to deal with the armed resistance.

This is a classical political mistake many governments often make in dealing with domestic insurgency. It is therefore not surprising to find that wherever that situation exists the governments in question are, after having been in denial for a long time, eventually forced at great embarrassment to themselves to concede that an insurgent force actually exists.

This nation has been fooled for too long. We have already paid a very high price, it is now time for the government and nation to chart a new course based on political realism.

I believe that if Guyana is to go forward in peace and tranquility it stands the best chance of doing so if the following issues are addressed:-

Firstly, the PPP/C government must accept that given the situation in the country it is very unlikely that it can militarily defeat an African armed resistance given the ethnic and political history of our security forces. It must therefore publicly admit the existence of an armed resistance. As bitter a pill that this is, it is a necessary pre-condition towards finding a solution.

After having done so it should then seek to negotiate a truce with the resistance. If this is done we are more likely to find a political solution to what is a serious political problem. The security forces with its limited resources will be freed up from the burden of having to deal with a political/military insurgency, and will then be able to concentrate its efforts in the fight against drugs and social/economic crimes.

Second, the government must also come to the realisation that State encouraged and sponsored executions of African Guyanese young men by elements within its police force and by death squads controlled by drug lords is largely responsible for the present crisis.

The exclusion of the African community from executive power through a winner take all political system, must be addressed now. The perception by the masses of Africans of economic marginalization must also be addressed now. It is clear that the factors which I have alluded to have contributed to the growth and rise of an organized African resistance.

It is counter productive for the government to continue its present approach to the nation's problems since it is obvious that it robs the nation of its political and moral capacity to deal with these national challenges. The government's position since 2002 has created a confused situation that gives cover to all elements to act as they please. It is clear that as a nation we cannot deal with the present dangerous crime/security crisis that is made worse with time: 2006 being an election year only adds to our dilemma.

Third, the government, the parliamentary opposition parties and all other parties that are contesting the elections must embrace ACDA's call for constitutional reform based on shared governance before the elections are held.

Fourth, there must be a grand alliance of all national stakeholders in a genuine effort at national reconciliation, and to liberate Guyana from the drug lords.

If as we claim we really care for Guyana let us not allow those who have lost their lives to do so in vain. We as a people and as a nation must act now rather than later.

Yours faithfully,

Tacuma Ogunseye