Women’s rights on Tuesday seemed set to become a major campaign issue for the opposition coalition and the incumbent People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPPC).
First it was the PPPC when it rolled out then Director General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Elisabeth Harper, who later on went on to tell Guyanese in a canned interview on state-run television that she had been a victim of domestic violence. That has since been used against Harper by coalition Prime Ministerial candidate, Moses Nagamootoo who has repeatedly question her sincerity on the issue since Former President Bharrat Jagdeo had been accused by his then partner, Varshnie Singh, of domestic abuse.
Now, the coalition of A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) is driving home the importance of women’s rights. Addressing a youth rally on Parade Ground hours after the coalition’s list of candidates was presented to the Chief Elections Officer of the Guyana Elections Commission, Keith Lowenfield, the coalition’s presidential candidate, David Granger hammered home the importance of protecting women in address to the large gathering.
“Women folk will be the most important part of our population in an APNU+AFC administration. We have to learn to respect our women-folk,” he said. He cautioned men against impregnating young women who should otherwise receive a sound education and move on to be independent mothers as part of good homes and families.
Known for his dry humour that rattles attendees, he said “I told you I love women. David and Moses can’t operate without Sandra and Sita,” in reference to his wife and that of prime ministerial candidate Moses Nagamoootoo.
He said women have been playing major roles in the coalition’s campaign for the general elections due on May 11, 2015.
Granger credited the women with pushing natural mobilization of supporters to together clinch victory because the combined opposition had won 175,000 votes at the November 2011 general and regional elections compared to the 166,000 by the PPPC. “We have to organise behind APNU and AFC. We are the parties, which together, will bring a new democracy to Guyana,” he said.
Back in 2011, the three parties had contested the polls separately, resulting in the PPPC losing its parliamentary majority by one seat while the AFC had won seven and APNU 27.