Guyana Elections: Opposition coalition lashes back at PPP attacks in Queens, New York

Opposition coalition lashes back at PPP attacks in Queens, New York

Sunday, 22 March 2015 23:38 – Written by  m- Demerara Waves

Opposition coalition lashes back at PPP attacks in Queens, New York

The coalition appeared to have deliberately targeted its message to the predominantly East Indo-Guyanese community in Queens, New York who have been traditional backers of the incumbent PPPC.

Assurances- although not entirely watertight- that A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) would not kick out the Alliance For Change (AFC) from the coalition on winning the May 11, 2015 election were given against the background that the PPPC has been claiming that there would be a repeat of the PNC had booting the United Force (UF) four years after coalescing in 1964. “It will work my friends. We have to make it work. This is not about us. It is about you. This is what you want….National unity is now on the cards,” Nagamootoo told more than 300 mainly Indo-Guyanese.  

In contrast to the majority Afro-Guyanese attended receptions in Brooklyn and New Jersey, there was a fair number of Afro Guyanese at the event in Queens.

He explained that the AFC called for a pro-democracy alliance or anti-dictatorial front because minority rule could lead to instability, violence and disintegration of Guyana.

Nagamootoo, however, echoed AFC Leader Khemraj Ramjattan’s warning that if the coalition is crippled by disagreement, his party would use its 12 parliamentary seats guaranteed – win or lose- in the accord with APNU to team up with the PPPC to file a no-confidence motion. “Nothing is cast in stone, nothing could be assured that it could go on without a flaw or it could go on without any changes,” he said.

He stressed that the APNU and AFC would make every effort to build trust, confidence and a relationship to make it work. “We are not saying this to big-up ourselves, we are not saying this as a threat but we are saying this that we hold a guarantee that if things don’t go well David and you and I have to file legal proceedings for a divorce I am taking my property with me- twelve seats- and when you end up in a minority I go over to the other side and you getting the no-confidence motion all over again,” he said.

The coalition’s agreement, called the Cummingsburg Accord, provides for a three-member dispute resolution panel.

On the thorny issue of the AFC back-peddling on its long-held promise that it would never coalesce with the PPP or the PNCR because it wanted to preserve its identity, Nagamootoo referred to an analysis that eventually showed that that was the best option to remove the PPPC minority government from office due to disunity, corruption and mismanagement. “The Alliance For Change, even though my leader Khemraj Ramjattan said that it was an option that we want to  exercise, that we would lose our individuality, we would lose our personality if we got into  a coalition, we decided when we looked at all the options available that getting Ramotar for three more years was not an option, getting Jagdeo for three more years or five more years or forever is never going to be an option,” he said.

Since the birth of the APNU+AFC coalition on February 14, 2015 after weeks of negotiations, the PPPC’s propaganda machinery has cranked up into high gear to show that many of the AFC’s mainly Indo-Guyanese supporters feel betrayed and have rejoined the ranks of the ruling party.

With East Indians, mainly in the traditional PPP stronghold of Berbice, still being the victims of violent and sometimes deadly banditry, APNU+AFC Presidential Candidate, David Granger repeatedly hammered home the point that he would make Guyana safe.

“I know you want to go back but you want to be safe and the person to make you safe is standing right before you (applause). We know the problems that Guyana is suffering from now and we want to guarantee your security, we want to guarantee your safety and that can be guaranteed by this government of national unity,” said Granger, a former member of the Disciplined Forces Commission.

Responding to the PPPC’s anti-coalition slogan that “Granger is danger,” he said “Granger is a game-changer” who would not be replicating the past governance models of Forbes Burnham, Desmond Hoyte and Cheddi Jagan but would instead be seeking to create a government of national unity that could also include the PPP, reconciliation and constitutional reform. “I’m leading Guyana into the future. I’m not leading Guyana back into the past… I’m David Granger. I’m not Forbes Burnham,” he said.  Many Indo-Guyanese fear a return to Burnham years of the 1970s and 1980s when elections were rigged, political opponents were beaten and harassed and basic food items were banned or restricted.

The PPPC’s election campaign includes propaganda on social and conventional media and at public meetings that APNU is the PNCR by a different name and that it has a history of violence including the recent shooting at the latter party’s headquarters during its congress.  The ruling party is also continuing to accuse Granger, a Retired Brigadier and Commander of the Guyana Defence Force (GDF), of playing a role in rigged elections and being a military serviceman when then Working People’s Alliance (WPA) co-leader, Dr. Walter Rodney was killed in an explosion on June 13, 1980 while operating a bomb-in-walkie-talkie that was provided by then GDF electronics expert, Sergeant Gregory Smith.

The coalition plans to open a development bank to offer business development financing, review the operations of the Skeldon Sugar Factory and the wider state-owned sugar industry, modernise and diversify the sugar industry, create value-added industries, open up agriculture lands from Moleson Creek to the Canje Creek, and review of the allocation of radio and television frequencies and Internet bandwidth.

Nagamooto said a new government would prefer to draw down funds from the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) as a soft-loan to rice millers to pay farmers promptly. “Human development, for us, is a priority but it has to come with an integrated and a comprehensive plan how to correct the defprmity of the present economy and how to open up avenues for further development of Guyana in terms of its agri-potential,” he said.

APNU+AFC Co-campaign manager, Joseph Harmon promised that Berbice River bridge tolls would be reduced and Old-Age Pensions, Social Security (National Insurance Scheme) and high taxes.


PPP supporters protest outside opposition coalition meeting in Queen’s, New York

Sunday, 22 March 2015 21:28 – Written by   – Demerara Waves

Opposition APNU+AFC Prime Ministerial Candidate, Moses Nagamootoo (backing camera with hands together) is greeted by angry PPP supporters in Queen's, New York.Photo: Opposition APNU+AFC Prime Ministerial Candidate, Moses Nagamootoo (backing camera with hands together) is greeted by angry PPP supporters in Queen’s, New York.

Nagamootoo smiled and attempted to interact with supporters of the party he once loved until he resigned in 2011 and joined the Alliance For Change (AFC) as its Vice Chairman. However, they hurled insults at him.
After jeering Nagamootoo, a former long-serving senior member of the ruling PPP, calling him a traitor and a sell-out, they waited in vain for almost an hour in cold weather to serve up similar treatment to the coaltion’s Presidential candidate, David Granger. However, the vehicle that brought Granger reversed in a side entrance of Naresa’s place, the gate closed and he was whisked through a side entrance to the meeting.“We are sending a message to the coalition and Moses Nagamootoo and Mr. Granger that their coalition is a farce. Mr. Granger used to be in the army and Mr. Nagamootoo has not been honest with the Guyanese people. We cannot forget the past, the PNC rigged elections, they ruined Guyana and they have not apologized to the Guyanese people for what they have done wrong and we are here to tell them that we do not trust their coalition,” he told Demerara Waves Online News.Queen’s, New York is considered a PPP heartland of Indo-Guyanese supporters.

Ali said he was not opposed to moving on rather than dwelling on the past, but he wanted the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR)- the major partner in APNU- to apologise for its period in office from 1964 to 1992 when it lost power to the PPP for the first time in three decades. “I am not opposed to moving on but for almost three decades we had PNC rule and dictatorship and the history of Guyana is a troubling one and no one has apologized for it and Mr. Granger has not seen it fit to say something went wrong and we must move one but as of today he has not said that,” said Ali.

Reacting to the manner in which he was greeted by the PPP supporters, Nagamootoo told Demerara Waves that he was not too surprised by the protest and that was an indication that the incumbent party was heading into certain defeat at the May 11, 2015 general and regional elections.

“I believe that the PPP is so nervous that it is paying out the true image of itself as a opposition. In every country, it’s the opposition that pickets government. This is the only government that pickets the opposition and its absurd to this broad support for the coalition, broad support for national unity in Guyana,” he said.

Specifically on being called a nimahkaram by the protesters, he accused the PPP of appealing to race- “the PPP under Jagdeo and Ramotar, they are resorting to their very final weapon to stop this express train going on to victory.”

Ali disputed claims by the opposition that corruption was prevalent, saying that international financial institutions have not reprimanded Guyana and refusing to provide additional resources. “I am not saying that there is no corruption at the level of civil servants. There is corruption at that level but to say that the President and the PPP are corrupt is outright wrong,” he said.

Supporters from both sides of the political divide engaged in short, heated arguments that were sometimes punctuated with indecent language and vulgar non-verbal expressions.

A number of the protesters later entered the meeting and made a little noise at the back before they complied with requests for silence. All persons entering the venue for the meeting were searched and patted down before.

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