Recent actions involving the incumbents in general elections in St. Kitts-Nevis and the Co-operative Republic of Guyana have cast dark shadows on the commitment shown in this region by certain leaders to the wishes of the electorate in free and fair elections.
The people of these two member states of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) were left waiting in anxiety as the outgoing administrations refused to accept the will of the people to freely choose who they want to govern them.
In the case of Guyana, due to its complicated voting, it took more than four days for the Opposition Alliance of parties headed by a former army top brass, David Granger to be declared as the new President to replace President Donald Ramotar.
Despite this, the outgoing PPP/Civic ruling party did everything possible to frustrate the process and to cling onto power.
Prime Minister Denzil Douglas was such a poor loser in St. Kitts/Nevis that it had to take calls from other regional leaders including our own, Prime Minister, Dr. Keith Mitchell to give him a wake up call and for him to understand that he needed to respect the wishes and aspirations of his own people.
The common tread running through the veins of the outgoing administrations in both Guyana and St Kitts-Nevis is that the governing parties had won four consecutive elections and had been in power for 20 years.
These developments in both St Kitts and Guyana have reaffirmed our commitment to the need for constitutional changes in terms of term limits to be placed on persons holding the Offices of Prime Minister and President in this part of the world.
A very bad practice is emerging in which office holders who stay in power for a considerable length of time at the helm of their country’s affairs begin to show disrespect for the will of the electorate out of a clear false belief that the country has now become their own personal property and no one has the right to remove them from power.
This kind of behaviour has unfortunately resulted in questions now being asked about the mentality of the black man to accept defeat gracefully in the best traditions and to give up power peacefully and not damage the image of the country.
Is it any wonder that Electoral Observers from the Organisation of American States (OAS), CARICOM and the Carter Foundation in the United States are often dispatched to these little islands in order to try and declare their elections free and fair to the rest of the world.
Have you ever heard of the Carter Foundation going into any of the major Western industrialised countries to observe their elections to make sure that the process is above board?
Why do they have to do this kind of exercise in our part of the world? Why can’t our leaders demonstrate to the rest of the world that we are mature enough to handle our own affairs?
Is the black man still suffering from an inferiority complex after centuries of slavery that he cannot lift the game in terms of his behaviour? Why are some of our leaders such bad losers? Oh how quickly they lose sight of the fact that the country is bigger than the man.
From all indications, the defeated Prime Minister of St. Kitts, Dr. Denzil Douglas is not satisfied with his 20 years given to him in office by the people of the twin island state and is already busy at work looking to bring down the new government within the shortest possible time in order to return to his throne.
It is alleged that even after the electorate had spoken overwhelmingly in the St Kiits-Nevis elections, the outgoing Douglas went to the island’s main airport and took charge of the PA system and started to announce that the opposition had stolen the election from his Labour party.
How can an opposition take over an entire electoral process from an incumbent who has been in charge of State power for so long and had put in so many of his key persons in all the sensitive state positions as part of a deliberate strategy to fully entrench himself in power?
It shows that Douglas had lost touch with reality and saw himself as always being the person in charge of the affairs of his little island.
The region will have to put legislation in place to guard against these demagogs and little Tin Gods who emerge quite too often in Caribbean politics and prey on the weaknesses especially of the poor and use them to help manipulate the electoral process so as to hold onto power.
Too few leaders in our region – like Michael Manley and PJ Paterson of Jamaica and Sir Nicholas Brathwaite in Grenada – who have tasted power and were sensible enough to understand that there comes a time when the baton has to be passed on to others to run the affairs of their respective countries.
Finally, there seems to be another emerging trend of the powers-that-be in the Spice Isle seeking to massage the minds of the people with a falsehood to get them into believing that something really good is happening with Grenada and its economy.
The words coming out from the mouths of our leaders in St. George’s are indicating that Grenada now has the fastest growing economy in the sub-regional Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) as if to suggest that a Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) is the best thing for a people.
Prior to the downfall of the New National Party (NNP) and PM Mitchell in 2008, they were boasting that Grenada was the “economic tiger” in the OECS and compared the island’s economic strides with that of Singapore in Asia.
Yet, a few years later the same little Grenada could not pay its debt obligations of EC$2.6 billion, forcing the island to turn to the IMF for assistance.
This kind of money is but small change for the rich in today’s world but can force a small island like Grenada to condemn its people to live a substandard life.