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Jagdeo unveils multi-pronged strategy for PPP to regain power

Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo addressing a symposium on the lawns of Red House on Wednesday, October 6, 2015 to mark the 23rd anniversary of the return of electoral democracy.

Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo Monday night unveiled a three-pronged strategy for the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) to regain power- rebuild the party, use local government elections to mobilize,  and fan-out the “strongest” persons in opposition strongholds where there was multiple voting.

Addressing a Symposium to mark the 23rd Anniversary under the theme, “Achievement since October 5th 1992; Democracy under threat since May 11th 2015,” at Red House, Kingston, Georgetown, he said the PPP needs to bring back “old comrades” while at the same time attract more youths and women as well as revive party groups countrywide.

Jagdeo appealed to PPP supporters to address problems such as overconfidence, division and detachment from the rest of their communities. “All of you, there is no time for any division in our community or party groups across the country; they lost energy- some of our party groups,” he said.

While Jagdeo credited “good comrades” with contributing to the development and sustenance of the PPP, he criticized those who had deliberately excluded others from joining the PPP. “The comrades who had personality conflicts must shed those conflicts for the good of this party and for the good of the country,” he said.

Jagdeo called on party members to walk house-to-house in communities and reconnect with the masses rather than being distant and unfriendly. “Over the years, we had grown a little aloof – as some people say arrogant about power-…we need to fix ourselves first so that we are the strongest organisation so that when the elections come, the outcome will  be foregone a conclusion that we will win it handsomely and continue the development of our country,” he said.

The former Guyanese leader said the PPP’s mobilization and reorganization strategy to propel it back into the seat of central government must be dovetailed with winning at least 60 of the 71 Local Government organs countrywide at Local Government Elections. Those polls, according to insiders at the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), could be held any time after mid-February, 2016. “We already have seven (of the 10 administrative) regions under our control. If we control another 60 local government bodies, that is a good base on which to re-launch the fight for power at the national level so I expect all of you to treat the task of Local Government Elections seriously; it is one of the steps on the path towards winning back power at the national level,” said Jagdeo who was President from 1999 to 2011.

The Opposition Leader announced that the PPP has decided that at least 50 percent of its candidates must be “non-party members” by getting reputable people in the villages “so that when we go to the elections we can have the best candidates.”

If several wide-ranging electoral reforms, which the PPP is demanding, are not carried out before the next local or general elections, Jagdeo said the PPP must be prepared to deploy strong party members in about 300 polling stations in APNU+AFC strongholds areas including south Georgetown,  Regions Five and Region Four- Victoria, Nabaclis, Golden Grove,, Buxton, Melanie Damishana, Ann’s Grove-  to ensure that ballot boxes are not stuffed by multiple voters.

He said the so-called voter turn-out in those areas was as high as 95 percent because partisan presiding officers had distributed ballots to persons who were not entitled.

In light of drop in actual PPP voters, the PPP Executive member recommended that the PPP begin identifying persons who would be stationed at those 300 polling stations. “We can find 300 of the strongest PPP people who will never allow themselves to be bullied or chases out of the stations in Georgetown and these areas because if we block the stealing there, we win the elections,” he said.

Jagdeo recalled that at the last general elections, which were held on May 11, 2015 and which the PPP lost by about 4,000 votes, 41 polling agents did not show up for duty and in others the party had chosen brave but not necessarily the strongest party comrades who were intimidated by crowds outside the polling stations.

The PPP’s demands prior to another  elections include the need for a new Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission, electronic voting, fresh countrywide registration, enhanced biometrics, the falling of the GECOM Secretariat to under the purview of the seven-member Commission to enable the Commission to give the Secretariat general orders and directions; recruitment of GECOM’s key election officials such as Returning Officers and Presiding Officers and Poll Clerks through improved transparent and impartial practices and a new voters’ list to be compiled on the basis of a fresh house to house enumeration.

That opposition party also wants a review the process that allows for voting by the Disciplined Services, amendment of the relevant sections of the Representation of the People’s Act to allow for the enactment of appropriate legislation to facilitate implementation of agreed reforms.