IN a matter of a mere 100 days Guyanese head to the polls for the May 11 General and Regional Elections, which has come more than a year early.
And marking the last week has been the extension on routine outreaches to community by political parties, increased commentary being bandied about in the local political sphere and there has also been the offering of some finality in recent pronouncements.
Head of the Presidential Secretariat (HPS), Dr. Roger Luncheon last Wednesday, ended talks of ‘what if’ and ‘when’ in making it clear that the dissolution of Parliament will be made before or on February 9, 2015.
With the Elections Proclamation signed, and scheduled to be gazetted soon, attention has been shifted to the next step, the lead up of the return to the polls, and Dr. Luncheon was emphatic in stating that this will be the dissolution of Parliament.
Concerns over why the dissolution of Parliament, which currently stands prorogued, have been bandied about since President Ramotar’s announcement of Elections Day.
However, Attorney General (AG) and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall, in a prior interview with the Guyana Chronicle, made it clear that the two announcements do not have to be made simultaneously.
“There is absolutely no obligation on the President to dissolve Parliament at the same time when a date for National Elections is announced,” he told the Guyana Chronicle in an invited comment.
Nandlall explained that the two announcements can be made together, but it is not an absolute necessity that they must be.
He added that the Constitution states clearly that elections must be held within three months of the dissolution of Parliament. “Parliament has to be dissolved on a date within that three-month timeframe,” Nandlall said.
Once the proclamation of dissolution is issued, preparations for the next Parliament – the 11th Parliament – will commence.
The new 65 Members, relative to representation in the House, will be decided based on the outcome of the upcoming General and Regional elections and who those individuals are will be based on the names submitted, via a Candidates List submitted on Nomination Day, by the contesting political parties.
The 10th Parliament was convened on January 12, 2012.
Also, Minister of Education, Priya Manickchand announced that new dates for the Caribbean Secondary Examination Certificate (CSEC) and Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE) examinations, scheduled for May 11 and 12.
The Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) gave its approval for the move following a series of consultations.
While the decision to shift the dates for the upcoming examination has since been welcomed by Executive Member of the Alliance For Change (AFC), Cathy Hughes, A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) had more ‘direct’ views on the matter.
APNU was reportedly furious with the date set by the President Donald Ramotar for the holding of the 2015 General and Regional Elections and at least one of its factions had issued an ultimatum to the Head of State to announce a new date “or else.”
The demand came as the Opposition coalition took to its first public platform, since President, Ramotar on Tuesday last announced that May 11 will be Elections Day.
At an APNU orchestrated rally held at the vicinity of the Stabroek Market, Ryan Belgrave, the Chairperson of the Guyana Youth and Student Movement (GYSM) issued the ultimatum citing a conspiracy against the nation’s youth given the coincidental regional examinations.
The GYSM is youth arm of the Peoples National Congress Reform.
Belgrave was supported by other APNU speakers at the forum including, Basil Williams, Volda Lawrence, Annette Ferguson and Keith Scott.
On the issues of more a more internal nature, the incumbent Head of State, was confirmed as the presidential candidate for the ruling People’s Progressive Party/ Civic (PPP/C) leadership ticket heading into the May 11 elections.
This was confirmed last Monday by PPP/C General Secretary, Mr. Clement Rohee, during his weekly press conference, held at party’s Freedom House headquarters.
According to Rohee, there was no other contender up for consideration when the decision on the presidential candidate was made by the party and a decision is still to be made on the party’s choice of a Prime Ministerial candidate.
Meanwhile, APNU is yet to decide on both the presidential and prime ministerial candidates to contest the highly anticipated elections.
While chances are that a youth from the party could be selected as the prime ministerial candidate, APNU Leader Brigadier, David Granger (rtd.) at his party’s weekly press conference last Friday, stated too that the selection process has not yet commenced.
He added that the section of the candidates will be done by a high-ranking APNU team, which will explore all options for the best suitable candidates.
The AFC, on the other hand, at their recently held conference announced that the two forerunners for their party in the upcoming general elections will be Moses Nagamootoo, as the presidential candidate, and attorney at law, Nigel Hughes, as the prime ministerial candidate.
However, with the possibility of a pre-elections coalition between APNU and the AFC, a reshuffling of these posts is likely.
As it relates to the three main political parties officially hitting the campaign trail, none of them have done so yet.
For APNU, the likelihood of this happening by February 20, the birthday of founder, Forbes Burnham, was confirmed by Granger.
The PPP General Secretary has indicated that the ruling party is also expected to hit the campaign trail soon.
The AFC has been mum on the issue so far.
Politicos have commented that the campaigns for the three political parties are likely to commence after the dissolution of Parliament, which Dr. Luncheon has confirmed will happen soon.
And so Guyanese look forward to another ‘happening’ week in the political arena, with another countdown in their minds – eight days to February 9.
Written By Vanessa Narine