Days after raising fears that the integrity of the military and police would be compromised if the opposition, dominated by ex senior military and police leaders, is victorious at upcoming elections, Former President Bharrat Jagdeo Sunday night appealed to servicemen to vote for his People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPPC).
Addressing a large rally at Stewartville, West Coast Demerara on Sunday, he urged police and soldiers to cast their ballots for the PPPC next week when members of the Disciplined Forces are scheduled to vote ahead of civilians.
“The soldiers are gonna vote next week and there has been a major attempt to capture the hearts and minds of soldiers by the inclusion of ex military people in the PNC (People’s National Congress) campaign. Today, they argue that they love the soldiers and they will take good care of them.
I say to the soldiers and policemen, who are here, but will be voting: you sit down and decide who had always supported you,” he said.
Jagdeo is already on record as warning PPPC faithful that if A Partnership for National Unity+ Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) wins the May 11, 2015 general and regional elections, that coalition would seek to influence the army and police. He has said that when civilians’ doors are kicked down there would be no one to turn to for recourse.
The Russian-trained economist and former Finance Minister reminded soldiers that that the entire capital of the 1990 budget for the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) was GUY$300,000, while in 1991 that budget was GUY$675,000 to buy equipment and run the army.
He claimed that back in those days, soldiers had insufficient food and few clothing to wear “and you say you love them today simply because you are ex military men.” Jagdeo argued that APNU+AFC Presidential candidate Retired Brigadier David Granger’s legacy was compromising the professionalism of the GDF. “That was Granger’s legacy to the army and force good career officers in the army to leave the country because they were bypassed by political consorts who were sent from the YSM ( the People’s National Congress’ youth arm- Young Socialist Movement)
“In fact, the only legacy that the army and police had was to push them to steal ballot boxes and subvert the professionalism of the army,” he said.
President Donald Ramotar, in his address at the rally, also sought to play down any possible rift between the GDF and the government over remarks previously made. “The Army and Police have a vital role to play in our social and economic development because we need to operate in a secure environment so that we can take our production level higher and higher, and therefore those servicemen and women in the army and police can count on us to defend their professionalism… the PPP/C is strong enough to fight its own political battles. We don’t have to involve them in our political battles. They will forever serve in the interest of all Guyana,” the President said.