Photo above: Guyana Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo.
GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Mar 7, (CMC) – The main opposition, People’s Progressive Party (PPP), is urging supporters to ensure the party wins the March 18 local government elections (LGE) that will be held here, for the first time since 1984 when the party won those elections.
Former President, Bharrat Jagdeo, addressing an event, yesterday, in honour of the late Dr. Cheddi Jagan, the party’s co-founder, said, that victory for the PPP in the LGE would serve as a buffer against some of the David Granger government’s discriminatory policies.
“It is only field work that will bring out the vote,” he said, stressing the need to control the 71 local authorities, comprising towns and neighbourhood councils.
“When we win these NDCs (Neighbourhood Democratic Councils) our comrades will have to act differently; our councillors will have to act differently. They can’t chase people who go to their offices and complain. They have to explain to them some of the issues in their NDCs.
“If they don’t have money to do something, they have to hold the shoulders of their comrades and say ‘I can’t do this, we can’t do this, we don’t have the money,” Jagdeo said, as he urged supporters to unite ahead of the LGE.
Jagdeo, the Opposition Leader, also said, he feared the coalition government was moving towards rigging the LGE.
He said, there were plans by the government, comprising A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) and the Alliance for Change (AFC) to register thousands of under-aged persons.
“Even if we have a clean registration and the fraudulent birth certificates; they give out 10,000 birth certificates through that ministry to underage people then those people will be registered and it’s stacked against us too,” he said.
He told supporters, that the separation of births and deaths registration from the Ministry of Public Security and putting it in the hands of the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, Winston Felix, was possibly part of a plan to register thousands of persons to meet voting age.
Jagdeo said, that his party would also be ensuring that there is a fair system used to recruit presiding officers and other elections personnel.
“We have to fight to minimise the capricious behaviour of some of these presiding officers. We have to fight for a fairer system of the recruitment of presiding officers.
“The integrity of the election has to do with the quality and the integrity of GECOM itself and, therefore, if it does not have the integrity, if it is partisan in outlook, if it is institutionally biased against the PPP, then already we are going into an election stacked against us,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Private Sector Commission (PSC) and three Western diplomats say, they fear that there may be a low voter turnout at the LGE.
PSC Chairman, Norman McLean, called for full participation of all citizens in the electoral process and urged all eligible voters to go out and cast their votes.
“The danger exists that these persons may stay away from the polls on March 18″, he said, adding, that “the casting of votes in the 2015 local government elections is the right of each and every eligible Guyanese.
“A right moreover, that has long been denied to the people of Guyana. It is incumbent upon each of us to exercise our constitutional right to vote for the candidates of our choice.”
The PSC and the United States, British and Canadian Embassies have received the Guyana Elections Commission’s accreditation to serve as observers.
U.S Embassy Deputy Head of Mission in Guyana, Bryan Hunt, said, the elections were absolutely critical. “Local government is the first line of defense in any democracy,” he added.