Opposition to boycott govt’s Independence flag-raising in Linden

Last Updated on Friday, 24 May 2024, 19:37 by Writer

PNCR Leader Aubrey Norton

As the People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPP)-led administration prepares Saturday to hold Guyana’s 58th Independence Anniversary flag raising ceremony in the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) stronghold of Linden, Opposition Leader Aubrey Norton on Friday said the APNU+AFC coalition would boycott the event.

Among the reasons he cited were the government’s “blatant disregard” for locally elected representatives in the community in planning the Flag Raising Ceremony, incomplete projects in Region 1o that had been initiated by the David Granger-led administration, and disregard for the “hardworking” teachers in Region 10 (Upper Demerara-Upper Berbice) and elsewhere in Guyana.

“We will not attend any government-organized Independence celebration since to celebrate with the PPP government is to collude with those who are oppressing the people of Guyana,” Mr Norton told a news conference.

The Opposition Leader said the coalition was profoundly disappointed and dismayed that the Irfaan Ali-led administration’s failure to involve Region 10 residents and the elected Regional Democratic Council of Region 10 and the Mayor and Town Councillors of Linden in preparations for the event.

In what appeared to be a tit-for-tat affair, Mr Norton noted that the PPP-led government boycotted the Linden Town Week.

The PNCR-led opposition coalition slammed the government for bypassing the opposition-led Regional and Local Councils in Region 10. “The deliberate exclusion of regional officials from Region #10 from such a significant event is not only callous but also gross disrespect to the principles of local and regional governance.”

Mr Norton recalled that in previous years, during flag raising ceremonies in Region 2 (Pomeroon-Supenaam) and Region 9 (Upper Takatu-Upper Essequibo), in which the PPP forms the Regional government, there was full participation of the respective regional officials.

“The barefaced disregard shown towards Region #10 is unacceptable and undermines the spirit of inclusivity and unity that should characterize such national celebrations,” the Opposition Leader said. He castigated the PPP administration for being more interested in photo opportunities rather than genuine efforts towards fostering a united Guyana for all its citizens. “This exclusionary approach only serves to deepen divisions and foster discord among our people,” he said.

President Ali has been advocating a ‘One Guyana’ policy.

Already, Region 10 Chairman, Derron Adams said on social media that he intends to ignore the invitation. “My absence as Chairman at this event will therefore reflect my disappointment at the total shut-out of your elected Council from this national activity, while I celebrate with our constituents the pride of our nation achieving our 58th Independence Anniversary,” he said.

Mr Adams said on Thursday that less than 48 hours before Independence Day celebrations, the government delivered an invitation to the Office of the Regional Chairman while none was sent to the Vice Chairman or Councilors. The Region 10 Chairman also protested the shut-out from preparations for the event. “While we acknowledge the significant nature of this event which we usually plan and execute, the RDC was completely shut out of any planning or participation this year, even after reaching out in the spirit of unity to do so through the Regional Executive Officer,” he said.

Opposition parliamentarian for Region 10, Jermaine Figueira echoed similar concerns and demanded an apology. “We demand a public apology from the Minister for this latest oversight, and a commitment to (be) more inclusive and respectful in its practices in the future. The Minister and the Ministry’s role is to serve the people, and it must do so with integrity, transparency, and respect,” he said.

At a time when teachers continue to be on strike to pressure government to negotiate salary increases for 2019 to 2023, the Opposition Leader used the opportunity to reiterate APNU+AFC’s support for teachers and other government workers. “Consequently, we stand in solidarity with our teachers as they confront the high cost of living, poverty and an uncaring and vindictive government that continues to ill-treat them and all the working people of Guyana.”