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Guyana’s ruling party targeting young voters through Mashramani

President Donald Ramotar addressing a gathering at the Progressive Youth Organisation’s (PYO) Mash Camp event.

The People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPPC) appears to be capitalizing on Mashramani 2015 to mobilize young voters to cast their ballots in favour of that incumbent party at the May 11, 2015 general and regional elections.

The party organised youths twice this week at its Mash Camp near the party’s headquarters, Freedom House, on Robb Street, Georgetown to hear senior party leaders speak to them.

Following the loss of its majority in the 65-seat National Assembly by one-seat at the November 2011 general and regional elections, the PPP had eventually publicly admitted that a section of the electorate were young and did not experience the days of the People’s National Congress (PNC) in office from 1964 to 1992.

At Thursday night’s event organised by the Progressive Youth Organisation (PYO), the gathering of mainly young persons were constantly reminded that they were government’s priority in creating the environment for the delivery of education and jobs through major developmental projects.

President Donald Ramotar singled out the opposition’s blocking of the construction of the Amaila Falls Hydropower plant as a striking example. “How can they say that they like young people and vote against a project of that nature?” he asked. Earlier this week, Junior Finance Minister, Juan Edghill pointed out that under the PPPC-led administration youths are being afforded opportunities to acquire their own homes and vehicles.

On the issue of education, the President accused the opposition Alliance For Change (AFC) and A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) of attempting to deprive University of Guyana (UG) students of cash to take tuition loans. “They voted against you having a proper education when they tried to cut the budget in which we give loans to students attending the University of Guyana. How can they speak seriously about education and developing our young people and tried to cut the budget where we were lending students who couldn’t afford money to attend the university,” he said.

Claiming that the AFC and APNU tabled a no-confidence motion after government put back money into the student loan fund, the Guyanese leader contended that “clearly we are dealing with a people who are not only anti-developmental but anti-young people because we cannot explain that action by any other way,” he said, adding that if the loan fund was not replenished, there would have been fewer students attending because they cannot afford to pay tuition fees.

The opposition parties had repeatedly promised to vote in favour of more cash for the student loan fund if it was taken to the National Assembly. Instead, it was never tabled before the National Assembly and government provided the cash from the Consolidated Fund.

Apart contemporary issues like the joint opposition’s disapproval twice of amendments to the 2009 Anti-Money Laundering and Countering of Financing Terrorism (AMCFT) Act, the PPP used the opportunity to remind the young participants about food shortages in clear reference to the PNC administration under Forbes Burnham.

Both the PPPC and the APNU-AFC coalition hope to clinch victory by at least 51 percent in what so far appears to be a straight fight between Guyana’s political giants.