GEORGETOWN, Guyana, May 27, 2020 (CMC) – Guyana celebrated its 54th anniversary of political independence from Britain, yesterday, that is being overshadowed by the disputed March 2 regional and general elections.
The Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) is engaged in a re-count of the ballots, cast in the elections, that both the ruling coalition — A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) and the Alliance For Change (AFC) — and the main opposition, the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) are claiming victory.
In his address to the nation, President, David Granger, urged Guyanese to await the declaration of the results.
“The Elections Commission, which is the sole authority, charged with administering the elections, in accordance with our Constitution, has responded in an orderly and lawful manner to the challenges, which have arisen,” he added.
But PPP/C Presidential candidate, Irfaan Ali, countered, after 54 years of political independence, Guyana should have developed various institutions that would have protected the rights of citizens.
“Instead, after a resounding victory for the people’s Progressive Party Civic at the last polls, Guyanese, collectively, are in a struggle to secure the votes and democratic outcome of the last elections,” he pointed out, adding that the current situation “must strengthen our resolve and re-commit our efforts to democracy”.
Granger noted that Guyana is celebrating the independence anniversary, while “recalling the sacrifice, suffering and struggle of our working people, who struck the first blows against colonial oppression, one hundred and 15 years ago, in Georgetown.
“We remember the militancy of the workers, who were shot by the colonial police in the Ruimveldt Riots of 1905, an incident, which led to the formation of our first trade union and the start of the labour movement.”
Granger remarked that the country must also recall that workers’ rebellions, which erupted throughout the British West Indies in succeeding decades, forced the Imperial government to ameliorate living and working conditions.
“Britain’s response initiated a constitutional revolution and, eventually, led to independence for its Caribbean colonies. British Guiana, as part of the labour movement and the independence movement, achieved its independence on 26th May 1966.”
He said Guyana, as a sovereign state, established diplomatic relations with scores of other states, on the principles of mutual respect for each other’s territorial integrity and sovereignty, non-interference in each other’s internal affairs, respect for treaties and international law and the rejection of the use of force to settle international disputes, among others.
He stated that the country has embarked on a path towards enhancing public education; expanding the economy; extending public infrastructure; ensuring human safety, public security and territorial integrity; reforming the constitution; improving governance; intensifying social protection, social cohesion and Indigenous peoples’ well-being; developing the energy sector and protecting the environment.
“Workers and persons, in difficult circumstances, have started to benefit from increased wages and pensions, improved public services in the four new regional capital towns, improved education and employment opportunities and enhanced empowerment through regular local government elections.”
Granger predicted that nationals can look forward to enjoying greater equality and a higher quality of life, in an expanding economy, over the next decade.
“We have become a ‘petroleum state’, in which the proceeds from the petroleum industry will contribute to transforming the economy. We are on a path towards becoming a ‘green state’, which will promote the preservation and protection of our environment and the adoption of renewable energy technologies.
“We have launched the ‘digital state’, by extending the use of information and communication technology, to ensure connectivity in every region. We are on a path towards becoming an ‘education nation’, aiming at universal primary and secondary schooling and free education at the University of Guyana,” he added.
Granger projected that the “Decade of Development”, which he had declared at the start of this year “will be the most exciting and exhilarating era in our nation’s history”.
Meanwhile, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) extended congratulations to Guyana, which it described as “a valued member of the Caribbean Community from inception, as an original signatory to the Treaty of Chaguaramas and has shaped its evolution through continued positive contributions”.
CARICOM Secretary General, Irwin LaRocque, said the 15-member grouping, which has sent a high-level team to observe the recount exercise in Guyana, “pledges its support to the people of Guyana, and to the country’s efforts in all areas, including economic, social and good governance”.
LaRocque said that the people of Guyana should be proud of the 54th anniversary of political independence.
The United States also extended congratulations, with US Secretary of State, Michael Pompeo, noting that “your anniversary is especially meaningful this year, as Guyana stands on the brink of a new and more prosperous era.
“We urge the government to respect the wishes of the voters, as peacefully expressed in the March 2 election. Any recount should be conducted in a free, fair, transparent, and credible manner. The United States stands with the people of Guyana, who want their voices heard,” he added.