Reports suggest that many of the electors who voted for the AFC, of which MP Charrandas Persaud was a member, were Indo-Guyanese sugar workers and rice farmers whose livelihoods were disastrously impacted by the policies and actions of the APNU/AFC Government. There were wholesale lay-offs of sugar workers and the incomes of rice farmers were substantially reduced. The Starbroek News would comment that the APNU/AFC administration did not realise "that three and a half years of its governance could have awakened deep-seated and seething resentment at its handling of the sugar industry and other parts of the economy".
It was also reported that Volda Lawrence, Minister of Health and chairman of the PNCR, the driving force in the coalition Government, had publicly stated at a District Conference in November 2018, that employment in the Government services was reserved for PNCR members, obviously to the exclusion of members of the AFC and other parties in the coalition. This statement is not surprising, as the PNC under Forbes Burnham had embraced the doctrine of the paramountcy of the party in all spheres. In the absence of a rebuttal from the leadership of the Granger-led Government, MP Charrandas Persaud may have felt that his support for the ruling coalition was abused. In addition, he would have been acutely aware of the erosion of electoral support for the AFC in the Local Government elections of November 2018.
If therefore, Charrandas Persaud was of the view that the ruinous policies and dictatorial tendencies of the APNU/AFC administration and the consequent alienation of voter support demanded an appropriate response from him, then his support for the no-confidence motion against the Government was in the best traditions of representative parliamentary democracy.
The Granger-led Government has not taken the defeat in Parliament on the no-confidence motion lying down, obviously because no one wants to lose power. Firstly, there was an appeal to the Speaker by the Attorney General and other members to reverse the decision of Parliament on the ground that the vote was not passed by the required constitutional minimum which was deemed to be 34 and not 33. The Speaker has since referred the matter to the courts for decision. Secondly, it was alleged that PM Charrandas Persaud received a bribe from the PPP/Civic Opposition in collaboration with political elements in Trinidad to vote as he did. This allegation has yet to be substantiated by hard evidence. Thirdly, it has been claimed that Charrandas Persaud had dual citizenship. If this disqualified him from being a member of the Guyana Parliament, would his vote, as a result, be invalid and therefore null and void? As far as I am aware, there has been no official confirmation of the dual citizenship allegation. If however, this information became known to members of the Government after the vote, then the issue of the legal validity of the reversal of a decision retroactively arises.
There are various possible outcomes arising out of the no-confidence motion. The first is that the vote could be declared invalid and therefore the APNU/AFC Government survives and will continue in office for another year and a half until the next elections. From some accounts, it probably has lost the support of the majority of the Guyanese electors and therefore does not have the moral authority to continue to govern.
Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo has stated that "this government is totally useless to the people of Guyana. The longer they stay there, the more damaging it will be to our future". Charrandas Persaud has insisted that "I feel that 80 per cent of the Guyanese populace would want to have this government removed..." Pollster Vishnu Bisram was unequivocal in his view that "This President David Granger-led administration has been the most unpopular since the time of the Forbes Burnham dictatorship during the 1970s and 1980s". The Starbroek News would quote a Berbice elector thus: "For what was going on in the past three and a half years…this government was pressuring the people, the working class people."
Another possible outcome is that the no-confidence vote stands and general elections called in three months. There is speculation whether the electoral process will be free of violence and rigging, and the results a fair and accurate representation of the will of the Guyanese people. It will be recalled that rigged elections was a feature of the PNC regime under Burnham in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. Even as recent as 2015, the election results were disputed by the PPP/Civic.
If the election is called and the PPP/Civic is declared the winner, will PNC supporters accept the results or will they resort to violence against the PPP/Civic supporters as has happened in the 1962-1964 period and from 1992 onwards. Suffice to say, the Guyanese people have endured a troubled political history.