PROTESTS AGAINST THE SANDYS' "FORMULA"
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The Sandys "formula" was welcomed by the US Government which was confident that the new electoral system would ensure that Jagan and the PPP would be pushed out of power. The Americans felt that it would also remove the fears of another "communist" regime being established in the region. The US Government had already expressed its preference for Burnham and had intimated to the British Government that independence should only be granted if he held the reins of power. But the British Government was not too sure about the outcome of elections under the proportional representation system, and this might have been the main reason why Sandys refused to announce a date for independence.
In announcing his decision at the end of the constitutional conference, Sandys observed that party politics along racial lines was the main cause of Guyana's problems. He then stated that he had to consider whether the electoral system of proportional representation would improve the situation. Apparently convinced that this would happen, he declared: "I am satisfied that there is validity in the argument that in the present circumstances, where no party commands an overall majority of votes, proportional representation would be likely to result in the formation of a coalition government of parties supported by different races, and thus would go in some way towards reducing the present tension."
Sandys stated that it was his duty "to choose the electoral system which would be most likely to encourage inter-party coalitions, and multi-racial groupings and which would make it easy for new parties to form."
The PPP Government detailed its objection to the Sandy's "formula" in a memorandum set out in a "White Paper" in late November 1963. Accusing the British Government of a "breach of faith", it stated that the decisions "are a flagrant violation of decisions arrived at, and solemn undertakings give, at the 1960 Constitutional Conference." At that conference, a draft constitution for an independent Guyana was agreed upon, and that the only matter of substance that had to be decided upon at a subsequent conference was the fixing of a date for independence. As such, the PPP argued, the decision imposed by Sandys violated agreements already reached and would not help in resolving disagreements between different sections of the population. "The British Guiana Government cannot accept the constitutional proposals of Her Majesty's Government," the memorandum stated, and added that Sandys' imposition was "a device that must inevitably produce anarchy in the country."
In the course of announcing his "formula", Sandys alleged that as of October 31, the Government of British Guiana was "insolvent". He also insinuated that those responsible for the registration of voters for the 1961 elections were guilty of misconduct. He obviously used these allegations as an excuse to rationalise the British Government's backtracking on decisions that were already agreed upon at previous constitutional conferences.
The PPP Government denounced these statements as totally false. The Minister of Finance, Dr. Charles Jacob, challenged Sandys to prove his allegation of insolvency, and showed that the Secretary of State had based his allegations on a report by a British Government auditor, K.C. Jacobs dated 12 August 1963. Jacobs' report predicted that by 30 September there would be a deficiency of $2.3 million in the cash balance, and that by 31 October the short-fall would $1.7 million. The PPP Government showed that contrary to these predictions, which Sandys converted to fact, the cash balance on 30 September was $2.7 million, or $5 million above the British forecast, while on 31 October the balance was was $4.66 million, or $6.36 million higher than the British forecast. These figures were confirmed during the budget presentation in the House of Assembly in January 1964. A tax-free budget, as in the previous year, was presented and a surplus of $0.3 million was projected.
With regard to charges that there was misconduct in the registration of voters for the 1961 elections, the PPP Government felt that it was unfairly maligned even though it had no direct control of those elections. It pointed out that the registration was conducted under the authority of a British official. This official was supervised by a Chief Election Officer, an Englishman, who reported directly to the Governor.
But the British decision also was a big setback in the struggle for Guyana's independence. The PPP tried to reach an agreement with the PNC to make a joint demand to the British Government to fix a date for independence, but the latter was uncooperative.
In mid-January 1964, Dr. Jagan took his protest against the British imposition to the meeting of the Heads of the Commonwealth Caribbean in Jamaica. There he highlighted the intrigues of the British Government against the PPP.
At the end of the month, the PPP organised mammoth marches of its supporters from Crabwood Creek on the Corentyne River and from Charity on the Pomeroon River in Essequibo. Both of these converged in Georgetown on 31 January for a demonstration of thousands against the Sandys' decision, and to demand independence for Guyana. These marches were even larger than the "freedom marches" which the PPP had held in 1962. The January 1964 marches were very peaceful and very successful in whipping up support for the PPP's position. But some of the marchers were physically attacked by PNC supporters in Georgetown after the mass public rally addressed by Dr. Jagan had concluded.
Meanwhile, Dr. Jagan continued his efforts to bring about national unity and, at his request after the November 1963 constitutional conference, President Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana sent a mission to mediate between the PPP and the PNC. Despite numerous concessions by the PPP, Burnham and his party did not seem to want a national unity government and the mission departed after failing to bring about an agreement.