As promised, a joint opposition umbrella grouping including the main People’s National Congress (PNC) unveiled itself to the voting public on Friday arguing that coming together with a single slate and consensus presidential candidate might well be the best way of unseating the Indo-led People’s Progressive Party (PPP) seeking its fifth consecutive term in general elections due by yearend.
Former army commander and historian Brigadier General David Granger will head up the multiracial coalition that will fight for the presidency and the 65 seats in the country’s single-chamber parliament but the group left the door open for civil society and other interested parties to nominate someone to be Granger’s running mate. It also invited the others to make themselves available for slots on the parliamentary ticket.
Standing behind their banner with a unified symbol of a green hand with Guyana map in its left and an open right hand with the various party symbols, Granger wasted little time in giving a hint in what his campaign is likely to focus on apart from the state of the economy: the restoration of law and order in a country that the US State Department has branded as a major cocaine transshipment point from South America to Europe and North America.
“Guyana is at breaking point after nearly nineteen years of PPP one-party rule. Our country, today, is on the way to becoming a narco-state. Daily armed robberies, domestic violence, banditry in the hinterland, piracy on the coastland and arson and murder in our communities have scarred our society. Poverty and unemployment have created an army of beggars, drug addicts, lunatics, destitute people, wandering girls and street children. University graduates, talented teachers and nurses, and thousands of ordinary citizens race to migrate in droves from their homeland,” he said as a packed Guyana Pegasus suite listened.
But just as A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) was holding its own launching ceremony and informal press briefing, the PPP was less than a mile away trying to take away its nemesis’ political thunder by holding its own briefing, declaring that it is ready for a protracted political campaign and that it will again choose someone from civil society to be Donald Ramotar’s running mate. Ramator, a locally trained economist, was recently chosen as the party’s candidate to replace incumbent Bharrat Jagdeo, constitutionally barred from seeking a third consecutive term.
The grouping comprises the PNC, its old and bitter political rival the Working People’s Alliance (WPA), the Guyana Action Party (GAP), the National Front Alliance (NFA) and the Guyana People’s Partnership of former US army major Peter Ramsaroop.