Mark Benschop, a onetime political prisoner who was pardoned by former president Bharrat Jagdeo after serving five years for treason, a charge that he bluntly denied, has announced his candidacy for Mayor of Georgetown via Face Book, as the leader of the “Independent Party.”
The way was cleared for Benschop, a journalist, and online radio host of Benschop Listen Up – to throw his hat in the ring after the Government and the Opposition agreed on local government regulations reform that would allow the ancient city council to hold local elections.
Benschop in the past had called the city council ineffective, and blamed the decades old council for the lack of response to the city’s crumbling infrastructure and garbage pileup that have become a health hazard and eyesore in the capital.
If Benschop does indeed succeed in his bid, and wins the Mayoral election, he would be replacing 78-year-old Hamilton Green, who was appointed to office since 1994.
However, the vociferous Benschop, a former staff member of New York Mayor, Rudy Giuliani who has led numerous protests rallies on the streets of Georgetown and has captured the attention of a huge fan-base on Face Book, may face an up-hill battle against the year old appointed Deputy Mayor, Patricia Chase Green, who herself had to fight the legal system that had deemed her first appointment to the office, illegal.
Benschop is pressing on with his campaign, mainly via 5000 followers on the social media, calling on Guyanese abroad to encourage their friends and family in Guyana, to support his candidacy, as he continue to battle the government of Guyana.
Under his leadership, Benschop, publisher of the Observer Newspaper promises to uphold the values of honesty, efficiency, reliability and integrity as the Independent Party head, adding that he has a proven track record of fighting for people.
A new beginning for Georgetown – “One City Striving for Excellence” is his motto.
In his most recent post on Face Book, Benschop expressed the view of the Independent Part by saying that the decision to reject the proposal of direct election of the Mayor, who is the de facto head of City Government, amount to a convenience to retain power among the major parties, and isolate voices that are striving to end the politics of opportunism and nepotism.
“Nonetheless, he continued, “the Independent Party will be going directly to the people with its platform and message, providing them with an alternative vision for the municipalities around Guyana, and a relief from the mean politics of division and victimization that has been hovering over their existence for decades.
In the meantime, as recent as last month, public relations officer of the Guyana Elections Commission stated that Local Government Elections could not be held this year even if the four local government Bills are passed. This will not sit well with Benschop who will have to defer his run for another year, or until the commission decides when elections will be held.