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Opposition coalition plans to end racially divisive politics, improve living standards

The AFC-APNU Prime Ministerial and Presidential Candidates with their wives.

The opposition coalition on Wednesday officially launched its campaign for the May 11, 2015 general elections, pledging to end racially divisive politics for the first time since the 1950s and root out corruption, crime and bad governance.

Addressing a packed audience at the Pegasus Hotel, Prime Ministerial candidate Moses Nagamootoo said that after the 60 years Guyana was making another giant step towards national reconciliation, multi-ethnic and multi-party rule.

“It will be, as it has been, a bumpy road to the Promised Land. But we will not be daunted. We will not be intimidated.  We shall defeat the monster of racism. We shall overcome the campaign of fear,” he said to an audience that was made up of largely urban Afro-Guyanese and a smattering of mainly Indo-Guyanese professionals.

Nagamootoo, who resigned from the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) after more than 40 years and joined the Alliance For Change (AFC) as its Vice Chairman, said the restoration of electoral democracy in 1992 started a hopeful process but did not bring healing.  He hopes that the coalition between the AFC and David Granger’s A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) will bring an end to the new cycle of autocratic, one-party rule, corruption and complicity in criminal enterprises.

“Since 1955, a single occurrence called “the split” had wounded our Guyanese civilization. It occasioned political and ethnic division. But today, today – after 60 years – we are taking a conscious step to put the healing balm to the scars of that division. Today, we hold out a new promise of addressing the legacy of ethnic insecurity in Guyana,” he said in his address.

Guyana entered into period of race-based politics after the PPP split into two into the Afro-Guyanese dominated People’s National Congress (PNC), which is today the largest partner in APNU, and the largely East Indian-based PPP.

Referring to the coalition’s merged symbols of AFC’s key and APNU’s hand, the veteran politician quipped “in our hand is the key to unity.”

apnuafc launchIn his charge, the APNU-AFC coalition’s Presidential candidate promised a “real government of national unity and democratic renewal” rather than a “bogus civic alliance” that would seek to promote greater access to education, job creation and an end to crime, corruption and cronyism.

“Our young people demand jobs, not jails, not drop-in centres (but) jobs. Our women and children demand safety at home, not safe houses (but) safe homes. Our fishermen and miners demand protection from pirates and bandits. Our paddy farmers and businessmen demand fairness and our hinterland regions demand development, not gifts, not goodies, not grants but development,” he said.

He said the Cummingsburg Accord between APNU and AFC is “not a crass short-term office-sharing bargain” but amounted to a social contract with the Guyanese working class against a dictatorship. “We have come together because the nation is at breaking point. Guyanese have been fatigued by two decades of fickle promises, of fractious platitudes, of failed projects,” he said.

The Retired Brigadier of the Guyana Defence Force (GDF), in touting a government of national unity that would serve all Guyanese across the country, promised improved security, fight against poverty, and non-discrimination

Granger further assured that Local Government Elections, which have not been held since 1994, would be held every three years as is prescribed by the Constitution. “We shall create an empowerment policy that regularly renews local democracy by ensuring that local government elections are held every thirty-six months as stipulated by our constitution so that our villages, towns and neighbourhoods are well governed,” he said.

Other plans he listed include an education system that would produce “citizens of quality” who would be happy to remain in Guyana as well as create employment opportunities in science, technology, engineering, mining, agro-processing and the arts.  Under a coalition government, he said there would be an energy policy that would utilize wind, water and solar power to provide cheap, renewable energy to all Guyanese. There would be, he said, an enterprise and economic development policy that would offer a level playing field for local entrepreneurs, foreign investments and the huge Guyanese Diaspora.

The coalition intends to hold its first public rally in less than one month now.