Guyana Chronicle
March 14, 2004

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PROTEST demonstrations, even when lacking legitimacy and with evident narrow, partisan political motives, have become very much part of the political culture of Guyana.

It is, however, most desirable to have peaceful protests to express grievances, or voice dissent, than to engage in confrontational and violent activities that affect the lives of law-abiding citizens, jeopardise social and economic progress, and undermine democratic governance.

In this context, we have noted that the PNC/R has been coordinating with known allies in the local labour movement, as well as traditional opposition parties, to mount what is being marketed as a `Rule of Law March’ for Saturday, March 20.

Anyone familiar with the politics of this country, and specifically with the parties, organisations and individuals that have been identified for the coming march, ostensibly in support of the rule of law, would hardly have any difficulty in understanding its anti-government character.

As if to scare independent civil society and other organisations and individuals into showing up for the proposed protest march, the PNC/R has come up with the disingenuous suggestion that "failure to do so" - support the march - "may give the government the erroneous impression that you condone their present activities..."

This, incidentally, is the party that had made a virtue of disregarding the rule of law and promoting lawlessness in sustaining itself in power for almost a quarter of a century, undermined all institutions of the country, including the police, military and courts, and which also did so much damage to the social fabric and economic development of Guyana following its failure to regain power at the widely-supervised general elections of 1997 and 2001.

Astonishing claim
Guyanese, at home and abroad, have a fairly good idea of the social, economic and political problems that continue to afflict this nation. But the PNC/R is insulting their intelligence with its hilarious claim in to the press to justify the coming `rule of law’ march, when it said:

"The breakdown in the rule of law has surpassed crisis proportions. Every aspect of our lives has been thrown into uncertainty, anxiety and fear. All Guyanese, regardless of race or political allegiance, feel the effects. All Guyanese are crying out for a New Order now..."

What hyperbole, even for the PNC/R. What an astonishing claim. Is this party, which badly wants to be the alternative democratic government, really talking about Guyana, today? It cannot be.

To extend its anti-government campaign in relation to its allegations of death squads and claims of a ministerial involvement, the PNC/R could only be embarrassing itself by misrepresenting Guyana as a place where, as it claims, "the rule of law has surpassed crisis proportions. Every aspect of our lives has been thrown into uncertainty..."

Is this part of that party's propaganda thrust to influence organisations and individuals into joining in the so-called `rule of law’ march? What a pity.

Nevertheless, as the government makes haste, we hope, in expediting relevant probes into death squad crimes and related allegations, it is to be assumed that not only will the Guyana Police Force approve the application for next Saturday's protest march, but would be in full readiness to ensure that it does not degenerate into another occasion for lawlessness and threat to the rule of law.