They were introduced to the public at a community meeting held Sunday at Fourth Street, Cummings Lodge, East Coast Demerara where residents were told about the importance of local government, improving education and constitutional reform.
Edmond in brief remarks, told the gathering quality leadership is needed in order to move Guyana forward.
“Here, young people need to understand that under the watch of the Coalition… this country was looking for leadership by persons from across the regions, this is what the Coalition is presenting you”, he said. He called on those present to support the coalition, noting that a better future is guaranteed by the movement.
He said that if after being elected the Coalition does not fulfill its promises then the voter will decide what he/she prefers but according to him, the change has to be made first. “You want to know how a food taste, taste it”, he remarked.
The meeting which is the first of several organized by the Opposition movement, attracted a fair sized crowd and according to the Coalition, the country will experience a change in its fortunes following the May 11 polls.
Attorney-at-law, James Bond assured the gathering that the aim of movement is one of change and not power. He said some politicians in the government have been practicing division politics. ”Any person who practices division and fear do not want the country to move forward”, he said.
Bond noted that as a citizen, two government agencies, which he named as the Ministries of Home Affairs and Health , have failed the citizenry and according to him, it is under these two agencies that many persons at the grass roots level have suffered. He added that this needed to be changed, noting that persons are seeking alternatives to many ills which have occurred under these agencies.
At the level of the community, he said that among the pledges made by the Coalition, is the holding of local government elections within 100 days in office if elected. He said that it is important for the community and village to develop through the local democratic process. “It gives them an opportunity to the ordinary citizen to develop himself”, he noted
Bond also stressed the importance of constitutional reform, which he explained is necessary since it brings more accountability to the governance structure, including the Office of the President. “It is necessary because we have a presidency where he sits like a God”, noting that the Head of State is able to make decisions with little or no opposition, such as the prorogation of Parliament. “We need to have a president who is accountable to the country”, he said.
AFC activist Mark Ross told the gathering, which grew in numbers as the proceedings transpired, that there are several ills plaguing the country at the moment and he too noted that change is necessary for these issues to be addressed. He pointed out that there have been a number of proposals, many of which have been drafted, to address matters such as domestic violence and according to him, while tax-payers monies have been spent on crafting these proposals; their implementation is still to be seen. Among those, he noted, is a suicide prevention plan which is a crucial issue facing the Guyanese society. Ross also bemoaned the lack of reasoning behind several projects including the Marriot Hotel, in which he posited that the US$58M expended on the controversial project could have been spent elsewhere such as the improvement in conditions and salaries at the University of Guyana.
Ivelaw Henry, a People’s National Congress Reform (PNC/R) activist and former Chief Statistical Officer, spoke at length on the importance of the local government elections. ”Some of us who grow up in villages get development through our village leaders” and according to him, because of absence of local government elections, there is no opportunity for development.
On the issue of education, he said that one has to look at the issues faced by the University of Guyana in order to understand the task ahead. He said he studied at the university many years ago and today, the problems faced by the nation’s highest tertiary institution in those days, are still there. ”How can our country develop without proper education”, he asked.
He reasoned that development of a nation requires proper skills and he queried whether Guyana has the human resource capacity to develop the energy sector. ”If we find oil tomorrow, do we have Guyanese who are equipped?” ,he asked.
Chandan-Edmond was sacked by the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) due to absenteeism. However, a statement by her lawyer has implied that she was fired on February 20- the same day that she was due to sentence Prime Minister Samuel Hinds’ son after she had found him guilty of assault.