(by Andrew Kendall)
Two days after the May 11 General Elections in Guyana, and Georgetown has not been its usual bustling self.
On Wednesday it was almost like a public holiday – bar the fact that banks, schools and most businesses were open for business. Well, officially, open. Because, if one were to step into any random public school, in the city, you might have more likely than not confronted the sight of staff looking at their hands. Students have been absent in droves.
The same can be said of the University of Guyana, just out of town. Administrative staff and lecturers are present, but students are, mostly absent.
It has almost been a three-day holiday.
The city seems to be on semi-lockdown. One might imagine this hive of inactivity is simply a manifestation of the anxiety many feel as the wait for the results of the elections. But , no. Instead, the sound of silence in the city seems indicative of both the anxiety for results and a fear of the reaction. Regent Street, today and yesterday, was unusually desolate.
Today Insight asked a store-owner seen locking up his store this midday why he’s closed.
“I ain’t know what gon’ happen. People might riot so I just locking up until things calm down. I just come in to collect some stuff.”
And his words seem to be representative of pervasive fears. Legitimate fears? That’s another question.
From his response you would expect that there are signs of explicit unrest around, and yet, there has been none … so far.
And elsewhere the same sentiments abound among employers, employees, and schools (public and private). Students admit to parents being fearful of sending them down to town with the potential of unrest.
Even before the elections on Monday the country seemed geared towards the possibility of unrest. It’s why the Tuesday 12 CAPE Examinations were rescheduled to mid-June. Better to be safe than sorry that we’ve jeopardised these students exam. But what were they in jeopardy from to begin with?
Wednesday, the 13th, CXC English Literature and CAPE Performing Arts and Management of Business were written. Various students from schools around town confessed parents’ to an unwillingness to send them to the city.
Elsewhere, in other regions, life appears to be going on. Reports from Region 3, 5 and 6 indicate a return to normalcy. But in region 4, where the largest bloc of voters in Guyana hails from, it seems everyone is full of tension. Either from the lack of definitive results 48 hours after polls have closed or a quiet, piqued, nervousness as others wonders what comes after.
Georgetown, like a representation of the anxiety of the entire city, remains taut with tension. Like a tightly wound rubberband, the tension is potent.
One might suspect that this stasis in and around the city will remain until election results are officially announced.
Until then, Georgetown is stuck in a time-loop – everyone playing what amounts to a tiresome waiting game.