A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) had toyed with the idea of each of the five parties under its umbrella contesting the 2018 Local Government Elections separately to test their strength on the ground, but APNU Chairman, David Granger has brushed aside the question.
“I’m not aware of the veracity of that second statement. As far as I am concerned, the APNU was always committed to going to local government elections as a partnership,” he said in response to a question by Demerara Waves Online News.
Well-placed sources have told Demerara Waves Online News that late last year, the idea had been floated for the People’s National Congress Reform, Working People’s Alliance (WPA), National Front Alliance (NFA), Justice For All Party (JFAP), and Guyana Action Party (GAP) to campaign and contest the LGE separately in the field to secure support.
The PNCR is the only mass-based political party under APNU’s umbrella. The JFAP’s Jaipaul Sharma has said his party would not be making candidates available to APNU and would be leaving that up to the PNCR. The WPA has said it has not been part of any preparatory talks for LGE and would most likely not be fielding any candidates in the communities for LGE.
However, according to the sources, the WPA had prevailed on the importance of maintaining a semblance of coalition unity when it had become apparent that the Alliance For Change (AFC) was signaling that it would probably contest the local polls on its own.
For its part, AFC sources have told Demerara Waves Online News that their party is weak and disorganised on the ground. That, according to the sources, is similar to the 2016 Local Government Elections when the bulk of the mobilising and organising had been done by the PNCR although AFC and APNU had contested those polls jointly.
A major sticking point in the breakdown in the talks between APNU and AFC on whether to contest LGE jointly had been AFC’s demand for 40 percent of the candidatures, a demand the PNCR was unwilling to give into.
In justifying the importance of big political organisations like the PNCR contesting local elections rather than leaving them up to the communities at the grassroots level, President Granger said candidates must have the capacity to campaign vigorously countrywide.
“I conducting countrywide elections, you need an organisation and that organisation strengthens democracy. It doesn’t weaken democracy. It doesn’t smother democracy and organisation is one of the principles that we laid down in our discussions with other parties; that there must be an organisation.
People shouldn’t feel free to come and go because the voters want to know year-after-year that they’ll be able to contact the persons that they have election so we adhere to the idea of organisation but we encourage who do not belong to the APNU but share our ideals to come in and work with us and campaign,” he said.
The APNU Chairman stressed that individual constituency candidates must be able to mobilise members door-to-door and conduct registration. “This not a cake-walk and people who do not have that ability or interest will find that their candidacy or their campaign will come to a sticky end.”
Elections are hard work and you need to be able to go out there and met people in the markets, in their homes, in the churches and try to convince them to support you so that is why the organisation is necessary, that is why mobilisation is necessary and further more registration is necessary,” he told APNU’s media launch of its campaign.
The President and PNCR Leader said in supporting political parties at the local level, their interests could eventually be represented in the central government and parliamentary levels.