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PPP Congress opens with need to win back majority

Former President Bharrat Jagdeo in close conversation with Roger Luncheon and President Ramotar.

Guyana’s governing Peoples Progressive Party (PPP) on Friday opened its 30th Congress at Port Mourant, Corentyne, leaving middle-level leaders to stridently signal that fresh elections could be on the horizon to resolve 21-month long political gridlock.

Chairman of the PPP’s Region Six branch, Dr. Vishwa Mahadeo highlighted that the one-seat parliamentary majority by the Alliance For Change (AFC) and A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) has led to “a non-functioning parliament,” a situation that he said the ruling party must vow to change.

“The time is now at this 30th Congress to begin the fight to take back control,” he said in his welcome remarks at the August 2 to 4 decision-making event being held at the JC Chandisingh Secondary School, Port Mourant, East Berbice.

Mahadeo charged that the opposition was determined to weaken the PP’s strong and historic influence by seeking to capitalize on Region 6- the largest and densely populated region that has been the bedrock of PPP’s support.

Delivering greetings for the Women’s Progressive Organisation (WPO), Indra Chandrapal labeled the opposition’s “unpatriotic stance” as a “travesty” and “tragic”.

President Donald Ramotar, in his feature address as PPP General Secretary, also accused the opposition of blocking key transformative projects like the Amaila Falls Hydropower Plant (AFHP) and the overhaul of the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA). “In parliament, there was not a single question that they asked that we did not give an answer. None was avoided. All were confronted and they were all given. What we are hearing today is sheer excuses,” he said in reference to the US$848 million AFHP.

Again sending another signal that the PPP could take key decisions such as seeking a fresh mandate from the electorate well ahead of the constitutional deadline of 2016, President Ramotar said the Congress would make major decisions in dealing with the current political situation.

“There is only hope here in Guyana and that lies right here in this hall with us. We must continue to battle against the force….,” he said in reference to a law that was aimed at taking off guns from the streets.

Against the background of repeated claims that the PPP lost its majority in the 2011 general election because of mistakes that have been now corrected, Chairman of the Progressive Youth Organisation (PYO) Omar Sharif assured that the PPP’s youth arm was now better organized on the ground to confront the opposition saboteurs of economic progress.

“The PYO has over the past year rejuvenated itself. We actively assisted in the continuous registration process. We have gone door to door, house to house trying to inform and mobilize our people and our youth to defend our country from the anti-progressive elements.

“We have recaptured the spirit of volunteerism and activism and reached back into the communities to perform voluntary work and community building tasks,” said Sharif.

PPP speakers at the opening session spared no moment in drumming up sentimental support behind the names of party founders late Cheddi and Janet Jagan. They pointed out that congress was being held a short distance away from the birthplace of Dr. Jagan.

Organisers made special efforts to control the entry and exit of media personnel into the school for the opening session. Media personnel were not allowed to move around the venue and could only go to the washrooms accompanied by designated PPP personnel.

Among those present was Former President Bharrat Jagdeo who was seated at the head table next to fellow Executive Committee members Roger Luncheon and President Ramotar.

Also attending were United States Ambassador Brent Hardt, European Union Ambassador Robert Kopecky and a delegation from China’s Communist Party.