72 days to go… Political plays, risks, confirmations and expectations


THE definition of a “zero-sum” play comes down to a situation in which whatever is gained by one side is lost by the other, and as we move closer to the May 11 General and Regional elections, there has been increasing speculation over whether “zero sum” will indeed characterise the outcome of the upcoming polls.

Politicos in the last weeks have noted the continued challenges faced by the smaller Alliance For Change (AFC) since it coalesced with A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) and have continued to question the risks of such an alliance.
Whether the risks associated with the alliance will translate to a “zero sum” political play that benefits the incumbent party is left to be seen.
Weeks after joining forces, the alliance’s leaders have still not identified and selected its Representative and Deputy of its candidates’ list.This was confirmed by General Secretaries, David Patterson and Joseph Harmon, who during telephone interviews with the Guyana Chronicle gave the assurance that both teams are still working assiduously with sub-committees established as part of the operationalising of the “Cummingsburg Accord.”
What we do know is that the leader and deputy representative of the list will not be chosen from either of the parties involved in the coalition, according to Patterson, given the provision for the representatives of the list to be neutral, is embedded in the “Cummingsburg Accord.”
In other spheres, we also know that the ruling party’s prime ministerial candidate, Mrs Elisabeth Harper, has resigned as Director-General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Speaking at the party’s weekly press conference held at Freedom House, its General Secretary, Clement Rohee fielded questions on Harper’s selection as the incumbent Head of State’s running mate, and also stated that Harper will be active on the PPP/C’s campaign trail.
Responding to criticisms that she is not a “vote getter,” Rohee simply said, “Let’s wait on May 11 and see.”
According to him, the alliance is “trying desperately to create diversions” from the fact that the smaller AFC has been hit by a number of resignations, since the two parties coalesced.
“The Opposition is trying desperately to create diversions from the series of high-profile resignations that hit the AFC, as the haemorrhaging continues over the formalisation of its union with the PNC, as Guyanese far and wide are continuing to register their displeasure with the AFC’s betrayal of those who fell for its promise of change,” he said.
Rohee’s comments follow what he deemed a “harsh” statement over the announcement of Harper as the party’s prime ministerial candidate.
The consensus from the alliance is that Harper should have declined the offer and President Donald Ramotar, in an exclusive interview with the Guyana Chronicle, noted that the criticisms of Harper’s detractors seem to be “acts of desperation.”
Despite the attacks on her nomination, there have been many expressions of support for her by way of noticeable outpourings of this on popular social media platforms. Harper herself said, “I have received so many messages of goodwill and support. Their sincerity is overwhelming and touching. I am deeply bolstered by this support.”
There has also been confirmation that ahead of the May 11 General and Regional elections, international electoral observers have been invited to field missions to Guyana.
The disclosure was made by Head of the Presidential Secretariat (HPS), Dr. Roger Luncheon, yesterday.“We have sent out invitations to all of the conventional international agencies that have been invited historically,” he told the Guyana Chronicle, in an invited comment.
The traditional observer missions include the Organization of American States (OAS), the Commonwealth, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR).
The European Union (EU) also confirmed that it has committed some Euro 25,000 to support the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) in re-establishing the Media Monitoring Unit (MMU).
Another major announcement was the confirmation that the proclamation for the dissolution of Parliament has been issued by President Donald Ramotar, effective yesterday (Saturday).
President Ramotar said: “I issued the Proclamations that identify 28th February, 2015 as the date of the dissolution of the 10th Parliament of Guyana, and the 10 Regional Democratic Councils (RDCs).”
He said his reason for the delay in making the move was to ensure that all eligible voters are enfranchised in the lead-up to the May 11 general and regional elections.
“I did not dissolve the Parliament at the same time because, had I done so, the Claims and Objections period, which also allows for transfers would have been truncated. Were the latter to have occurred, thousands of Guyanese voters who [have] changed their places of residence would not have been able to obtain their transfers, and this could have led to them being disenfranchised,” the President said in a televised address to the nation.
In the 72 days to come, it is expected that several unanswered questions will be addressed – questions relating to the official launch of campaigns and the publication of manifestos, disclosures on which parties have confirmed their move to contest the elections and other questions in other arenas.
One such arena is the Walter Rodney Commission of Inquiry (CoI), where questions over the still missing weapons that were loaned to the Ministry of National Development of the People’s National Congress (PNC) Government during the 1970s and 1980s can be answered.
These answers according to the PPP General Secretary can be answered by current PNC leader, Brigadier (rtd) David Granger, and member Joseph Harmon – as both men had served with the GDF during the 1970s and 1980s.
“I am convinced about the need for the Commission of Inquiry to summon them,” Rohee said.
Last August, Lieutenant Colonel Sydney James, who spent three days at the CoI on the witness stand, testified and submitted documentation that the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) had loaned high-powered military weapons to the PNC’s Ministry of National Development.The records that Lieutenant Colonel James tendered as evidence to the Commission show that the GDF loaned 200-odd weapons to the ministry, as well as paramilitary organisations and other agencies.
What will manifest into reality, as it relates to the expectations of the Guyanese people, is left to be seen, as are the results of the APNU-AFC alliance and whether it will translate into the talked about “zero sum” political play that benefits the ruling party.
However, moving forward, the alliance as well as the People’s Progressive Party/ Civic (PPP/C) repeated their confidence of success at the May 11 General and Regional elections.

By Vanessa Narine