Last Updated on Friday, 10 March 2023, 9:21 by Denis Chabrol
The People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR)-led A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) and the Working People’s Alliance (WPA) on Thursday differed over whether to boycott the June 12, 2023 Local Government Elections (LGE) in its entirety.
WPA Executive member Tacuma Ogunseye said polling day should be used as a day to mark the commencement of national resistance rather than contest the elections in the 70 neighbourhood and 10 town councils. . “The WPA wants to make it clear that the Local Government Elections offer us a good opportunity to start the resistance,” he said. He said the opposition should not spend large amounts of money and deploy persons to contest the elections because the governing People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPPC)-dominated Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) has been already fixed to rig those polls. “We in the Working People’s Alliance wish to suggest to you, and we will suggest this formally to our opposition partners, that instead of mobilising to participate in the elections on election day, we mobilise to turn (LGE Day) as a day of national resistance and African uprising,” he told a public meeting in Buxton, East Coast Demerara.
Opposition and PNCR/APNU Leader Aubrey Norton supported the WPA’s proposed Day of Resistance but indicated that the opposition needed to maintain representation on councils in its strongholds. “My people, we can take two approaches. I agree with a Day of Resistance but I do not agree we should leave Buxton-Foulis NDC (Neighbourhood Council) in the hands of the PPP. I’m not going to agree with that,” he said. He said the opposition would not cede its strongholds such as Georgetown, Linden and New Amsterdam, to the PPP because they would do as they like. “We have said whatever means we use, we will not allow the PPP to control our strongholds. You imagine that we got the council in Georgetown and they are breaking up the vendors stalls…We will do everything to ensure that they do not succeed while at the same time resisting them,” said Mr Norton at the public meeting.
Mr Norton’s appearance marked the first time that a PNCR Leader has ever spoken on a WPA public meeting platform. The WPA, which exited APNU after the March 2020 general and regional elections, continues to maintain that the Forbes Burnham-led PNC was responsible for the assassination of its leader with a bomb-in-walkie talkie on June 13, 1980.
Urging Guyanese to get “battle ready”, Mr Ogunseye believed that the Afro-Guyanese dominated police and soldiers, who he said mainly support the opposition, would stand with Afro-Guyanese in resisting the mainly Indo-Guyanese supported PPPC. “We come to tell you that freedom is not far away. We come to tell you that we will ensure that our brothers and sisters in uniform do the right thing and this thing will be over quickly,” he said.
WPA Executive Member David Hinds said “for now we are not going to indulge in your farcical election unless we have a clean voters list.” He is confident that there would be a clean voters list as that would lead to electoral victory and superior policies.
He added that his party preferred to fight for Afro-Guyanese to get a fair share of the mammoth oil revenues rather than have the opposition seek cross-over votes. “Let them not tell us that we must seek cross-over votes. The time will come for that. For now, we are not thinking cross-over votes. For now, we are seeking to cross the river of oppression on to the promised land,” he said. The WPA’s position, he said, was that government could deliver to each Guyanese family household 10 percent of oil revenues or about GY$1 million rather than delivering huge contracts to their supporters.
The PPP-led government has repeatedly dismissed oppositi0on claims of discrimination against Afro-Guyanese and has instead been pushing its ‘One Guyana’ agenda. Mr Norton has accused the PPP of waging a propaganda campaign of its leaders posing with Afro-Guyanese at public events but only having Indo-Guyanese on overseas business trips.