With just about six weeks to go before Guyanese vote for a new government, opposition parties are ratcheting up attacks on the governing People’s Progressive Party (PPP) for alleged blatant use of state resources including the use of government trucks to transport supporters to rallies, timing house-lot allocations to coincide with rallies and for an unrelenting total control of state television and radio channels.
At two previous rallies in the capital, Georgetown and on the southeastern coast in Berbice country this month, opposition parties were forced to speak out against the use of sugar industry trucks to transport supporters to swell crowds and the party’s continuing dominance of state television NCN-11.
The parties say they were insulted by an NCN announcement in the past week that it is willing to give each party running in the Nov. 28 general elections five minutes of free air-time, providing they submit the DVDs and scripts for scrutiny a full 48 hours in advance.
This move is not necessarily a worry for the PPP as its top brass are continuously allowed to use it to spew government propaganda and extol the virtues of government policies over the past five years.
The opposition has since commenced a picketing exercise in front of NCN to push it to give all parties — at least those in the last parliament, equal and free air-time to level the playing field.
At a PPP rally in the bauxite mining town of Linden on Sunday, the party hired private trucks, heavy duty and mini buses to take supporters at a rally attended by no more than 2,500 supporters, including those who were taken to the area, 65 miles south of the city.
There, the PPP named Samuel Hinds, 69, prime minister since the ruling party came to power in 1992, as its candidate for the position again, as it seeks a fifth consecutive term in office.
Hours before, the Forestry Commission unveiled a communal kiln to help loggers dry timber of water sap. Its timing did not, however, go un-noticed as opposition parliamentarian Aubrey Norton indicated.
“They are just continuing to murder the resources of (the) state,” he said as the work week began. “We have video evidence of this and will let people know.”
The housing ministry, which had scheduled a house-lot distribution exercise just hours before the main opposition A Partnership For National Unity (APNU) had scheduled a major rally also in Linden last weekend, has pushed it back to this Thursday, a move Norton said has much to do with electioneering. The APNU, led by retired army commander Brig. Gen. David Granger, has said that it will also soon name its own prime ministerial candidate.
The umbrella Elections Commission, meanwhile, is expected to name a date in the coming days for parties to publish their list of candidates for the 65-seat parliament. All eyes will be on the PPP’s slate to see if outgoing President Bharrat Jagdeo will be on the list, especially after indicating that he wants to stick around and play a part in local politics.
By law, Jagdeo, who is barred from running for president a third consecutive term had pushed with all his might to ensure that protégée Donald Ramotar, 62, got the PPP’s presidential nomination.