GEORGETOWN, Guyana CMC – The ruling People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) is urging members of the security forces to vote in favour of the incumbent party, after accusing the main coalition alliance, APNU+AFC, of wanting to militarise the electoral process.
“The soldiers are gonna vote next week and there has been a major attempt to capture the hearts and minds of soldiers by the inclusion of ex-military people in the PNC (People’s National Congress) campaign. Today, they argue that they love the soldiers and they will take good care of them,” former president, Bharrat Jagdeo, told a public meeting here, last Sunday night.
“I say to the soldiers and policemen, who are here, but will be voting: you sit down and decide who had always supported you,” he added.
Police and soldiers are to cast their ballots for the election next week, ahead of the general population, who will vote for a new government on May 11.
Jagdeo reminded supporters of the poor state of affairs members of the security forces had to endure when the PNC formed the government more than two decades ago.
“And I say to the soldiers and policemen…you sit down and decide who had always supported you. In 1990…the entire capital budget for the whole Army was $300,000. In 1991 that budget was $675,000 for the whole Army to buy equipment…in 1992 it was $6M.
“Today the salary of the lowest person in the Army, a Private, if we look at his yearly salary, it is bigger than the entire budget in the Army of 1990 and 1991,” Jagdeo told supporters.
“How can they say they love you today and treated you with so much disdain? Soldiers didn’t have enough to eat in the military, they didn’t have equipment, didn’t have clothing to wear.
“I say to the Army, I say to the policemen, do not listen to their rhetoric because they are trying to play on your fear. They want when they come on the streets, the soldiers and policemen will stay quiet, they wouldn’t do anything, they wouldn’t perform their duties.”
Jagdeo said, that the legacy of retired Brigadier David Granger, who is leading the coalition alliance into the election was one on which he compromised the professionalism of the GDF.
“That was Granger’s legacy to the army, and forced good career officers in the army to leave the country, because they were bypassed by political consorts, who were sent from the YSM ( the People’s National Congress’ youth arm, Young Socialist Movement).
“In fact, the only legacy that the army and police had, was to push them to steal ballot boxes and subvert the professionalism of the army,” he said.
President Donald Ramotar, told supporters that both the army and police have a vital role to play in the social and economic development of the country, “because we need to operate in a secure environment so that we can take our production level higher and higher.
He sought to dismiss any notion of a link between the ruling party and the security forces, adding “the PPP/C is strong enough to fight its own political battles.
“We don’t have to involve them in our political battles. They will forever serve in the interest of all Guyana,” Ramotar said.