Former People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPPC) government minister, Dr. Henry Jeffrey does not believe that the coalition between Guyana’s two major opposition parties would win the upcoming general elections, in stark contrast to political analyst, Christopher Ram who argues that the majority of Guyanese are so fed up of the government that they would vote them out.
“I think what they want to do is to get rid of the PPP. I am not certain that that is the best option for doing so but I am not convinced that it’s the best option,” said Jeffrey, who was also an ideologue in the People’s National Congress (PNC) administration. He argued that the opposition would have stood a better chance of unseating the PPPC from office if they had chosen someone from civil society to lead the coalition into the May 11, 2015 general and regional elections.
He explained that the civil society-led coalition could have set constitutional reform as one of its objectives to pave the way for fresh general elections under a new system.
Jeffrey said he would have preferred a Moses Nagamootoo-led coalition as a means of winning more East Indian votes. “I am not buying into the view that Blacks would not have voted and all of that. In any case Indians are the majority in the country,” he told Demerara Waves Online News.
Now that the Alliance For Change (AFC) has coalesced with A Partnership for National Unity (APNU), whose major partner is the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR), Jeffrey contends that voters who would have seen AFC as a middle-ground party away from the two larger political organisations would stay away from the polls. “They have removed the possibility of a middle-ground that people run to. If there is no middle-ground, people have an option they can stay home or they go back and vote for whom they were voting and that is a great possibility that exists at the moment because the AFC joining with the PNC does not offer that middle-ground any longer,” he said. Jeffrey reminded that the AFC-APNU do not necessarily need to gain more votes in the May 11 polls, but the major challenge is keeping what they would have won at the November 2011 elections that resulted in the PPP losing its parliamentary majority by one seat but controlling the executive, while the two parties together got 51 percent. Guyana’s electoral laws do not provide for a post-election coalition.
Ram: Granger- a man of integrity
Nagamootoo: “The PPP had an opportunity to make me the presidential candidate and they would have won an election”
But Ram- a Chartered Accountant, Attorney-at-Law and political commentator- is upbeat about the AFC-APNU coalition, saying that it does not matter who is the presidential candidacy. Told that the PPPC would continue to exploit Presidential Candidate, Retired Brigadier David Granger’s military history and political association with the PNC, Ram betted on the PPPC administration’s treatment of its supporters, Amerindians and alleged widespread corruption. He does not predict that the PPPC would say anything new that could tarnish Granger’s image. “One of the big issues in this country is the question of corruption and you can say whatever you wish about Granger, you can’t say he is corrupt, you can’t say he is not a man of integrity so any attempt to do that will not stick,” he said.
Nagamootoo- who back in 2006 told a PPPC rally at Good Hope that he would never be a neemakaram and betray Dr. Jagan’s party-became disenchanted over issues of corruption and being sidelined from ministerial appointments and the presidential candidacy in 2011, resigned and joined the AFC as its Vice Chairman. Asked whether he expected the PPP to batter Nagamootoo’s candidacy among its traditional East Indian support base, Ram opined that Guyanese have matured over the past 20 years and I particular during the three years of a minority government. “No doubt, the PPP comportment and behavior will appeal to some Guyanese but I don’t think it will attract widespread support,” he said.
Speaking for himself, Nagamootoo rebuffed claims that he is “power drunk” on the grounds that he conceded the presidential candidacy to Granger. He conceded that if the PPP had made him the presidential candidate in 2011, Guyana would not have been faced with gridlock and heading into early general and regional elections well ahead of the constitutional deadline of next year. “The PPP had an opportunity to make me the presidential candidate and they would have won an election. We would not have been here after I would have tabled a motion of no-confidence. We would not have been here discussing a new election. But they could say what they want to say and, of course, I would not be bothered by the negatives of the PPP because a dying, decaying regime would, in fact, become a little more aggressive and dangerous as it becomes moribund,” he said.
The Political Commentator hopes that the AFC-APNU coalition swiftly informs Guyanese how it intends to address key issues such as constitutional reform, crime, public financial management, public service management, the National Insurance Scheme (NIS) and the bankrupt Guyana Sugar Corporation (Guysuco). “I hope this coalition over the next few weeks- there is not a lot of time- they have got to define themselves now by way of policy,” he said.
The coalition says it will in the coming days be working on its name, symbol and programme of action for its campaign which is to be launched either in late February or March.