As the 2011 political season appeared to officially get under way in Guyana last week, the main opposition party launched an attack on the incumbents, accusing them of attempting to find creative ways of extending President Jagdeo’s term in office beyond the constitutional deadline.
The opposition People’s National Congress openly accused the Bharrat Jagdeo administration of hatching a sinister plot to botch general elections scheduled for mid year and of attempting to find creative ways of remaining in office.
The People’s National Congress (PNC) said it had had conclusive evidence that Jagdeo and his aides have been trying to find out how they could remain in office through ways other than by a general election and that it intends to do all in its power to prevent this.
Jagdeo’s mandatory two consecutive five-year terms expire with general elections whenever held, but it was widely known that he had relished the idea of remaining in office to oversee a string of projects ranging from the bridging of the border Corentyne River with Suriname, to getting a hydro-power project in central Guyana started and the possible paving of the 350-mile jungle road from Georgetown City to the Brazilian border.
Opposition parties and critics say that it is through government-supervised development projects that authorities get their greatest opportunities for corruption and that may be one motivation for the PNC’s belief that Jagdeo is probing ways of extending the time available to his administration
Presidential spokesman Kwame McKoy says however, that the party is ready, willing and able to contest any general elections, especially now that the Polls Commission has said it is almost ready to move ahead with the elections.
“We are anxious to go the polls and our record shows that we are unbeatable,” McCoy contends.
PNC and Opposition Leader Robert Corbin say that the regime has sought legal advice on how time could be extended, but were told that barring a crisis, it will have to face the polls.
“The last opinion advised that unless there is a national emergency there is no way of delaying the general and regional elections. More details were later sought on how that emergency could be created,” Corbin said.
His comments come as political tension rises to usual pre-election levels. In the middle of last week, a grenade exploded near a main downtown bus park killing a deportee from the U.S. and injuring 19 others, including three who may lose sight in one eye.
The PNC immediately distanced itself from any involvement and blamed government mischief makers for setting the groundwork for trouble that could lead up to a national emergency.
By weekend, unknown assailants had hurled an improvised Molotov cocktail at a former government legislator’s home, while police say someone tried but failed to set fire to a public school on the east coast in the heart of a governing party enclave.
The jury remains out on who is exactly behind these latest incidents that resemble occurrences in the run-up to previous elections.