As was widely expected, Guyanese will vote for a new government on Nov. 28 in a scenario that probably represents the best chance for a combined opposition group to unseat the governing People’s Progressive Party (PPP) after 19 consecutive years in office.
Barred by the constitution from seeking a third consecutive term, President Bharrat Jagdeo Sunday afternoon issued a proclamation naming the date and giving political parties just over six weeks to nominate candidates for the 65-seat parliament and get their campaign into full gear.
No more than 4,000 people attended a rally at which Jagdeo also announced the date in the northern Georgetown district of Kitty on Sunday afternoon even though supporters were trucked from various regions to the city to attend it as has been the case at previous PPP rallies over the years.
The party is normally used to bigger crowds at major rallies but has been struggling this time around to attract larger gatherings without hauling in supporters from around the country.
To political observers, the date was no surprise as the business community had been lobbying for authorities to get it out of the way in enough time for them to cash in on the busy Christmas season.
Jagdeo meanwhile, bowed to growing international and domestic pressure to temporarily lift a four-month ban imposed on an opposition television station for allegedly libeling a close friend and confident of the head of government in a commentary aired earlier this year.
CNS-TV Six was forced to shut down its transmitters last week Monday after Jagdeo imposed the ban on a station that gave generous air time to opposition parties and commentators, triggering criticism that its closure was timed to give the PPP a clear advantage in the run-up to Nov. 28.
Bishop Juan Edghill, the head of the controversial Ethnic Relations Commission who said he had been libeled in the commentary that had referred to him as a political stooge with a criminal past, has already sued station owner Chandra Narine Sharma for $500,000 so its closure had puzzled critics and even the most loyal of PPP supporters who had seen the punishment as an overkill.
The station will be allowed to resume programs immediately but must close again on Dec. 1, to continue serving its ‘sentence.’
“So what I’ve decided to do is allow Sharma to broadcast for the next two months and start the suspension on December 1 so that they don’t have any excuse for another defeat. I want to take away any excuse that they would have to create violence or enmity. We want them to participate so we can thrash their asses,” Jagdeo said.
Jagdeo’s final term in office has been marked by widespread and credible allegations of corruption, generous encouragement to the narco trade and of political high handedness, points the seven-party A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) has been pounding on the campaign trail and district meet and greet sessions with citizens.
Retired army commander Brigadier General David Granger is leading the APNU which has been gaining traction but which will now need to lift its national profile to cash in on the best chance to rid the country of the PPP.