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WPA won’t be part of elections rigging; calls for national unity government and end to “old” politics

Dr. Walter Rodney

As the Working People’s Alliance (WPA) observes the 39th assassination anniversary of its co-leader, Dr. Walter Rodney, that party vowed that it would not be part of any plot to rig the upcoming general elections and that it knows of no such plans to do so.

“As we enter the electoral season and the political anxieties that come with it, WPA takes this opportunity to categorically state that it is vehemently opposed to electoral malpractice as a route to power. This is a fundamental principle of our party that is non-negotiable—WPA will not be part of any overt or covert plan or action to rig elections. To do so, would be a dishonour to the legacy of Walter Rodney and the other stalwarts of our party who gave their lives and sacrifices for free and fair elections that are free from fear,” the WPA said.

Others killed during that period included Ohene Koama, Edward Dublin and Roman Catholic priest, Father Bernard Darke.

The WPA dismissed claims by the opposition and others that there is a plot to rig the elections. “WPA sees or knows of no plans in that regard,” the party said.

Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo had in March, 2019 accused the Guyana Elections Commission of planning to rig the elections by excluding a small number of persons per polling stations during a planned house-to-house registration exercise.

Rodney was killed on June 13, 1980 in a bomb-in-walkie-talkie blast a short distance from the Georgetown Prison, while he had been seated in his Mazda Capella car bearing licence plate number PBB 2349. Former Guyana Defence Force (GDF) Sergeant 4141 Gregory Smith, who supplied the device, left for French Guiana where he had worked under the name, Cyril Johnson, until he died of cancer in November, 2002.

Smith had been charged with Rodney’s murder in 1996, and an arrest warrant had been issued. However, France does allow for the extradition of persons to countries with a mandatory death penalty.

The WPA maintains that Rodney was assassinated in response to the Civil Rebellion that he and the WPA had been waging against the then Forbes Burnham-led People’s National Congress (PNC) administration.

Touching on the Commission of Inquiry into Rodney’s death that had been conducted up to the May 2015 general elections by the then People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPPC) administration, the WPA accused the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR)-dominated coalition of still practicing the “politics of old”.

“For the WPA, the current government’s non-treatment of the findings and recommendations of the Rodney Commission of Inquiry was short-sighted. Despite the imperfections of the COI, its findings should have been better engaged. The government missed a great opportunity to demonstrate to the country and the world that it has transcended the crippling politics of old. It means, then, that as far as the WPA is concerned, the Rodney affair is unfinished business,” the party said.

The WPA has since teamed up with the PNCR and formed A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) which coalesced with the Alliance For Change (AFC) to win the general elections by a one-seat margin in the 65-seat National Assembly.

Pending a full assessment of the APNU+AFC coalition-led administration, the WPA gave the David Granger government good marks in managing the country. “For now, we wish to state that given the challenges it has faced, the government has performed creditably. There is much to be applauded even as we acknowledge that mistakes were made, some of which could have been avoided,” the party said.

At the same time, that party, which is today a shade of its former self, vowed to fight for dismantling the authoritarian State in which there is respect for dissent and for human dignity.

Citing the need for an end to ethnic fear-mongering which leads to underdevelopment, the WPA said it would spend “more energies in the search for national reconciliation. We reiterate our commitment to a Government of National Unity as a necessary vehicle for such reconciliation and regrets that the government of which we are a junior partner has not been more forthright in working for its realization. Our party continues to believe that no single party regardless of its electoral might could successfully manage this country,” the WPA said.

In that regard, the WPA said the Granger-led government has done little to establish a unity government of which constitutional reform is key to establishing political arrangements in line with Guyana’s needs.