President denies PPP buying Black support for Local Govt Elections; practicing racial discrimination

Last Updated on Tuesday, 18 April 2023, 17:11 by Denis Chabrol

President Irfaan Ali addressing the opening of Annual General Meeting of the Private Sector Commission.

President Irfaan Ali on Tuesday rejected claims by the People’s National Congress Reform-led A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) that the governing People’s Progressive Party (PPP) paid Afro-Guyanese to become candidates and appear as supporters for the June 12, 2023 Local Government Elections.

Reacting to claims by PNCR Leader Aubrey Norton and other persons that Blacks were being literally bought out by the PPP, the Guyanese Leader slammed those who uttered such views which have no place in a modern society. “This morning, I was very upset reading statements from the opposition which suggested that Afro-Guyanese who embrace the democratic right to choose and be part of a list of candidates sold themselves. That is not only disparaging and disrespectful but is utter nonsense,” he told the formal opening of the Private Sector Commission’s Annual General Meeting.

In the capital, Georgetown, the PPP also pulled over former PNC supporter- former Mayor Patricia Chase Green, former APNU+Alliance For Change councillor Trichria Richards as well as former independent councillor Malcolm Ferreira- as candidates for the upcoming polls. “More importantly, look at yesterday and see where Guyana is reflected. The truth will not hide itself under a veil of propaganda. The truth will not hide itself in the ugly, naked falsehood of the propagandists,” he said in response to overwhelming presence of mainly Afro-Guyanese at Nomination Day.

The President urged international partners and organisations should speak out against such views that impinge on the respect for people’s democratic right to choose.

Hours after LGE Nominations Day, Monday, a senior PNCR elected official circulated a screenshot of a WhatsApp conversation in which an Afro-Guyanese man claimed he was paid GY$10,000 for participating in the PPP’s mobilisation of predominantly Afro-Guyanese to accompany representatives to present their candidates to the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM).

Dr Ali said Guyanese were reaching out to be part of a government that promotes a governance system that is transparent, open, fair, equity, broad-based partnership and eschews confrontation rather than collaboration. He scoffed at the latest accusation by the opposition that the traditionally Indo-Guyanese backed PPP was discriminating against Afro-Guyanese. “To listen, to read a news outlet a few minutes ago where a member of Parliament would go and describe this government as one that gives Afro-Guyanese no opportunity and chances is disgusting and distasteful, is reckless and we must all speak up against that. The time has come for all of us to reject every racist utterance in this country, every attempt to divide us,” he said. The President challenged the private sector and the media to examine any State-controlled entity and show him where there is discrimination.

The PNCR-led APNU, AFC and the WPA as well as other aligned interest groups have repeatedly accused government of awarding multimillion construction and infrastructural contracts to Indo-Guyanese while providing small drain-cleaning and minor infrastructural projects to Afro-Guyanese.

The President urged the private sector to do “much more” in getting youths and women involved in business and leading businesses. “This government would work with you to open up opportunities through special policies and programmes to reach out to women and young people to own businesses and to open up opportunities for them to own their own businesses,” he said.