Guyana
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The ‘inconvenient’ truth

A FEW weeks ago, President Dr Mohamed Irfaan Ali, when questioned by media operatives here, admitted that his direct engagement with the people of Guyana will not change.
He even declared that Opposition Leader Aubrey Norton’s attitude and demeanour towards him as President will never impact his attitude towards the people of Guyana. He was pellucidly clear that “he does not know” that he needs someone to broker talks with Norton.

The president also explained, in essence, that certain sections of the media appear to be peddling the narrative that he is not willing to meet Norton so political dialogue and talks could commence or constitutional appointments could advance. He reminded them of all the political shenanigans and formal skullduggery of Norton and the opposition whenever he tried to engage in constitutional talks following the letter the requirements of the said constitution.

Dr Ali then said that his “life’s blood” was dedicated to ensuring he does every single thing that is required of him in the execution of his duties. He told them, in essence, that his engagement does not rest exclusively in an individual or office but he was open to talking and meeting with anyone for the betterment and progress of the people of Guyana.

He expressed his suspicion about the motive of certain media and press folks whom he accused of being “convenient” and peddling certain negative “narratives”. Dr Ali then said the truth was too “inconvenient” for these media and press folks but he will try again with the engagement of the opposition leader.

Firstly, Dr Ali is right and is standing boldly on the right side of history. He has tried to shake the opposition leader’s hand and be cordial at least twice. Understandably, he has even extended an olive branch to Norton, looking past the attempts of the APNU+AFC coalition to steal Guyana’s democracy.

If Norton knows this but does not even want to accept a handshake, then what is the President to do? Norton insists on being stubborn, indifferent, and strong-willed. It is clear that he does not want to talk. He does not initiate any formal or informal conversation with the President.
Norton’s attitude towards the President both in public and private is telling and leaves much to be desired of a potential presidential candidate. It is nasty and frankly speaking, it stinks. It is puerile and unbecoming.

Secondly, the US has not signalled directly any interest in brokering talks between the president and opposition leader. Sarah Ann Lynch, as the US Ambassador, has never said that they want to be a broker of talks between the two sides to the President or officially to the ruling PPP/C Government. She appeared to buckle under the intense and unfair media questioning by Gordon Moseley. It is such a shame that so-called credible journalists allow themselves to be used to forward the opposition agenda in this way. It is reprehensible to suggest that Guyana which is an independent nation would require any foreign help, in this way, to solve a problem that exists internally.

Moseley, Demerara Waves, Stabroek News and the section of the media that supports this viewpoint or repeats it, are themselves part of the problem because they are allowing Norton to get away with his attitude towards the President and talks. These media are, in this case, not really interested in seeing the truth. They have allowed as late Former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill said, “A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on”.

They should report accurately, fearlessly and in a balanced manner the news relating to this matter. After all, the truth does not wear clothes and travels barefoot. These media houses need to get their acts together and stop manufacturing stories or narratives.
Thirdly, political talks or dialogue have to have trust. They must take place in an atmosphere of good faith. They cannot, reasonably, be expected to be unconditional.

More importantly, they must centre around the political parties outside of constitutional things and the government. So, if it is this kind of discussion Norton and the opposition want, they must consult with the general secretary of the party in power, Bharrat Jagdeo and other politicians of the PPP/C.

They want to have discussions, conveniently now, about shared governance, a government of national unity, and all manner of political things but they are trying to trap the president. Recall, that the opposition tried a similar trick when they held the government at ransom in 2012. Sam Hinds, then Prime Minister, met the opposition in private, and the rest is history.

Finally, the Philosopher Confucius once said the object of the superior man is truth. Truth requires transparency and political talk requires an environment of trust and good faith. Why, then Norton does not want to build trust and good faith with the President before he discusses the other things at a political level? The man has no truth in him. He is using the Moseleys of our world, and will slither his way to power even if it means power through the backdoor. The truth is inconvenient and a hard pill to swallow.