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PNCR-led APNU must acknowledge election rigging before involvement in executive- Jagdeo

Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo on Thursday demanded that the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR)-led A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) admit to its history of election rigging before there could be a possibility of engagement in the executive.

“Our insistence, as a political party, on their acknowledgement that they have sought throughout their entire history to steal elections is an essential pre-requisite for moving forward and a repudiation of that sort of behaviour is the basis on which any foundation for closer work at the level of the executive has to be based on that,” he told a news conference.

He challenged the opposition to demonstrate that Afro-Guyanese were being excluded as a means of pressuring his People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPPC) into power-sharing. “You build a false premise and on that basis you’re trying through the backdoor to get part into the executive but to help the people you claim you represent but to help yourselves. We’re not part of that scam,” he said.

Brushing off opposition accusation of anti-democratic behaviour by his People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPP), “which we have explanations for,” he reflected on the period from 1968 to 1992 and in 2015 when the PNCR/ APNU had engaged in electoral malpractices. Mr Jagdeo also criticised the Guyana Court of Appeal for rulings against that the 2018 no-confidence motion and in favour of President David Granger’s unilateral appointment of a Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission that he selected rather than from a list of nominees by the Opposition Leader.

“We have always led the fight for democracy, Now, there are lots of other people who have fought for democracy who are not PPP but, as a political party, if we didn’t lead that fight, they could not have withstood the brunt of PPP assault,” he added.

Due to several different declarations in Region 4 (Demerara-Mahaica) to give APNU+AFC an overall win of the March 2, 2020 general elections, eventually a national vote recount yielded a declaration in favour of the PPP. But the opposition continues to maintain that the PPP perpetrated electoral fraud.

During the 1970s and 1980s, several Working People’s Alliance (WPA) activists, including party co-founder Dr Walter Rodney, had been killed during the collective opposition fight against the then PNCR-led administration. International observers had described one of the general elections during that period as “crooked as barbed wire.”

In recent years, APNU, Alliance For Change and WPA have been clamouring for amendments to Guyana’s constitution and election-related laws to allow for a fresh house-to-house registration of all persons living in Guyana as a means of removing the names of deceased persons and migrants. The opposition also wants the use of biometric identification at polling stations to avoid multiple voting and voter impersonation.

Mr Jagdeo again sought to debunk opposition claims that Afro-Guyanese were being marginalised from decision-making in Guyana and benefitting from Guyana’s resources. He said such criticisms were aimed at justifying talks between President Irfaan Ali and the opposition. He called that approach a “false narrative” by a number of allegedly corrupt persons who were not interested in developing Guyana.

Comparing APNU+AFC’s tenure with that of the PPPC, Mr Jagdeo said Afro-Guyanese have a better chance of getting jobs, house lots and some form of assistance. “It’s not exclusion of Afro-Guyanese. It’s exclusion of this cabal that has benefitted from perks of government,” he said.

The opposition maintains that there is discrimination mainly against Afro-Guyanese in the award of contracts, licences in the hydrocarbon and gold mining sector, and allocation of lands.