Guyana opposition pledges to end politics of race

A multiparty coalition hoping to prevent the Indo-dominated People’s Progressive Party (PPP) from winning a fifth consecutive victory in general elections due by year-end held its formal launch in Georgetown last weekend pledging to do all it can to end decades of racial tension between Blacks and Indians in the Caribbean trade bloc nation of 730,000.

The Partnership For National Unity (APNU) pledged at a formal ceremony that it would amend the constitution to get rid of the Westminster system which gives the winning party almost all the power over the state, while in office and allows those in power to ignore the opposition, regardless of the size of the winning majority — a criticism opposition parties and rights groups have been making against the Bharrat Jagdeo administration in recent years.

“We are sounding the death knell of winner-take-all politics,” APNU spokesman Rupert Roopnarine said. “Never again must 51 percent behave like 100 percent and 49 percent treated as zero; and never again must our election be felt as the victory of one race over the other.”

Retired army commander and respected historian Brig. Gen. David Granger, 66, will lead the coalition that has so far attracted seven opposition groups, including the Afro-dominated People’s National Congress (PNC) that ran the former British colony from 1964-92 before losing to the Indo-supported PPP.

When the APNU was first unveiled in June, only four parties were part of the coalition, but Roopnarine said three more have since joined up and the group has held its hand in case civil society decides to nominate a prime ministerial candidate or deputy leader.

The coalition plans to hold major rallies around the country in the coming weeks in areas close to the border with Brazil, Venezuela and Suriname, as it prepares for elections expected by late December.

The group will have one common symbol, but the big news is that the PNC has agreed for the first time not to appear on the ballot in its individual right for the first time in more than 50 years, but to become part of the APNU as it thinks it is the best possible means of unseating the PPP which has been stained by widespread allegations of corruption, links to the underworld and of having access to private hit squads.

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