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Guyana’s Main Opposition Party Wants Assurances Regarding Role Of Police On Elections Day

Guyana's Opposition leader and General Secretary of the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C), Bharrat Jagdeo, speaking to reporters. Photo credit: CMC.

Guyana’s Main Opposition Party Wants Assurances Regarding Role Of Police On Elections Day

GEORGETOWN, Guyana, February 28, 2020 (CMC) – The main opposition political party, People’s Progressive Party /Civic (PPP/C), says it is seeking assurances that police officers will maintain a neutral role on March 2, when voters go to the polls to elect a new government in Guyana.

PPP/C General Secretary, Bharrat Jagdeo, told a news conference, he had raised the issue with the various regional and international observer teams, here, to monitor the elections, in which his party is seeking to reverse the 2015 defeat, at the hands of the David Granger led-coalition — A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) and the Alliance For Change (AFC).

He has also called on the Police Commissioner to give the public assurances that the police will carry out its functions, in keeping with the provisions of the law, on election day.

“I thought I would just bring that to the attention …because this is a matter we have raised with the observers. I met with all the observer groups, and had long discussions with them, about a whole range of issues,” Jagdeo said.

Jagdeo, a former Head of State, said that the PPP/C is also concerned about “police readiness” for the polls, adding that he had informed the observers “that when there is fear about the readiness of the security forces to maintain law and order and protect the polling places, that they too have an obligation to secure assurances from the leadership of both the army and the police”.

Jagdeo told reporters he was able to speak, authoritatively, on the issue, having served as Head of an observer electoral team to Sri Lanka, where a similar issue had been raised, and he had to meet with both, the head of the police and the army, there.

“And so I have urged them (observers) to do the same thing, because from what we are hearing, is that there is a lot of interference”, by persons, closely associated with the ruling coalition.

“This will have an impact on the partiality of police members, or intimidate the police force,” Jagdeo said, adding “we want assurances that they are in a state of readiness”.

“I have heard issues about vehicles not being ready; training not done properly; that they are saying they are not going to use rural constables, they are only going to use police, and if that decision is taken, there has to be an adequate number of police for each polling place,” he outlined.

He said the authorities should not assign one police officer to “three or four polling places”, explaining “that will compromise safety and security”.

Jagdeo said that while the PPP/C is not telling the authorities “who to assign…but they have to give assurances to the public that they will act, impartially, and deal with these matters”.

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