Last Updated on Monday, 12 June 2023, 7:42 by Denis Chabrol
Polls opened in Guyana’s Local Government Elections (LGE) on Monday, with Opposition Leader Aubrey Norton saying his People’s National Congress Reform-led A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) did not contest in all Local Authority Areas but opted to dedicate its limited resources in its strongholds.
“In terms of strategy, our strategy was to take our resources and focus it in the areas that we thought essentially we had to maintain,” he told reporters shortly after casting his ballot in Plaisance.
Deeming the 2023 Local Government Elections a “trial run” for the next general and regional elections that are constitutionally due by 2025, he said APNU opted to use its resources wisely. “We concentrated our resources in the areas we think we had to work hard and ensure we maintain. We also focussed on some areas we thought we can improve our position and, for us, this is a trial run for the regional and general elections but we thought we need to expend our resources strategically,” he said.
Mr Norton accused the PPP of threatening businesses countrywide not to give resources to the opposition, resulting in APNU having to “make decisions that are sensible and permit us to be efficacious.”
Mr Norton also explained that APNU was unable to field candidates in Diamond, East Bank Demerara and Aranaputa, Rupununi because the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) had said that party representatives had turned up late to submit their nominations. According to long-time politician, APNU’s decision not to contest in all of the Local Authority Areas was in keeping with its long-held position that it would focus on its strongholds. In addition to many neighbourhoods, APNU has traditionally controlled the towns of Georgetown, New Amsterdam, Linden, Bartica and Mahdia. “Remember, we were doing two things. We were protesting the fact that the voters list wasn’t clean but at the same time we were ensuring that we protect our strongholds from the People’s Progressive Party,” he said.
The People’s Progressive Party (PPP) has contested in all Local Authority areas in and out of government.
Specifically on whether APNU would retain control of Georgetown, which stretches from Agricola to Cummings Lodge, he was confident of retaining control of that Council. “I think we have done the work in Georgetown regardless of the bribery and all the things the PPP became involved in. I think the people of Georgetown are sensible. Barring any illegalities, I don’t even see them having a chance of winning Georgetown,” he said.
APNU has accused the PPP of vote-buying by awarding small-scale contracts to predominantly Afro-Guyanese, who have traditionally supported the PNCR/APNU as well as paying them to turn out at political meetings and wear PPP’s red jerseys. The opposition has also repeatedly blamed the PPP for using government’s part-time workers to engage in political work or they would be sent home.