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Early elections in the air- Luncheon

In the face of the ongoing opposition veto of major infrastructure projects and cuts in two national budgets, the Guyana government appeared set to call early general election in the hope of regaining a simple parliamentary majority.

Head of the Presidential Secretariat, Dr. Roger Luncheon said government and the governing Peoples Progressive Party Civic (PPPC) were responding to the mood for an end to parliamentary gridlock in which the combined opposition was wielding its one-seat majority.

“I strongly believe that what has occurred over the last two years in the tenth parliament, particularly in the tenth parliament and of the tenth parliament that it may not be a phenomenon that could be resolved any other way than by general elections,” he told reporters.

His comments came less than one week after the PPPC began a series of mini-rallies across the country to not only celebrate its unbroken 21 years in office but also to desperately appeal to party faithful, disenchanted supporters and youths to organise and mobilize themselves with the intention of voting solidly so that the party could regain its simple majority. The PPPC holds 32 seats, A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) 26 and the Alliance For Change (AFC) seven.

In an effort to appeal to its supporters’ emotions, the Ramotar administration has been complaining bitterly that the opposition has been frustrating the country’s development by voting against budgetary and legislative provisions for mega projects like the Specialty Hospital, expansion of the Cheddi Jagan International Airport and the construction of the Amaila Falls Hydropower plant.

For its part, the opposition has charged that the projects are either too costly, lack transparency or were not necessary at this time mainly in the absence of any concrete study.

While the opposition could move a vote of no-confidence in the government and have the Parliament dissolved in preparation for early polls, Luncheon noted that that has never been the convention even when the government had the majority to defeat such a motion.

His position, in effect, meant that government would almost certainly decide when Guyanese should return to the polls to elect a government of their choice.

An official of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) on Thursday estimated that six months would be needed to prepare for general election which is constitutionally due in 2016. Major aspects of the preparations would be procurement of materials, training of polling day staff and the 21-day Claims and Objections period.

With the law prohibiting the holding of local and general elections in the same year, it is believed that government would prefer to gamble with securing a fresh mandate. The opposition, too, would likely reject moves to hold local government elections unless President Donald Ramotar signs into law a number of Local Government Bills that were approved earlier this year by the National Assembly.

The 5th cycle of national registration has so far captured 7,481 new registrants and 11,192 changes and corrections.