Bond at APNU+AFC Youth Rally: “Anytime your child tells you they not voting, kick them out!” …but President says remark smacks of intimidation

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Donald Ramotar

A PARTNERSHIP for National Unity’s (APNU’s) youth member, James Bond declared at an APNU+AFC Youth Rally that parents should “kick out” their children from their houses if they refuse to vote at the upcoming May 11 polls; but President Ramotar told Linden residents on Sunday that that remark belies intimidation.Speaking at a rally organised by Youths for David Granger (YDG) last Friday evening, Bond urged parents to “kick out” their children from their homes if those children should exercise their democratic right of refusing to vote at the upcoming May 11 Elections.

APNU member, James Bond
APNU member, James Bond

That youth rally was held at the busy corner of John and Hadfield Streets, near the popular Fish Shop’, and it attracted a few thousand persons, particularly youths who were eager to hear from the youth representatives of A Partnership for National Unity + the Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) coalition.

Following a series of redundant expressions by various youth representatives, Bond, an attorney-at-law, took to the microphone and underscored the importance of youths in the electoral process of Guyana.

He commenced his fiery speech by declaring statistical data from the compilation of a census, and he emphasised the magnitude of influence young voters were capable of achieving should they exercise their franchise and vote at the May 11 polls.

But as his speech progressed, Bond, in the midst of underscoring the need to vote, urged parents: “You mothers and fathers, anytime your child tells you they not voting, kick them out! Put them out the blasted house!”

The young attorney added: “Don’t put them out on the landing or the step or the gate; kick them right out the house!”

Reiterating his call, Bond declared: “If you got a son or a daughter under your roof and they say they are not voting, you kick them out!

“You have got to vote, young people. You come and lime at the Fish Shop every Friday, and you don’t have an ID card. Shame on you! You go and lime at Gravity and 704 and you don’t have an ID card, shame on you! You working for forty thousand and fifty thousand and you don’t have ID card, shame on you! And you want to tell your parents and your friends ‘I ain’t voting’; parents, kick them out!” the former MP repeated.

According to Article 59 of the Constitution of Guyana, while it is one’s democratic right to vote should they qualify, it is not compulsory for one to vote if they refuse to. This means that the democratic right is also extended to non-voters, since there is no penalty for non-voting.

Article 59 of the Constitution states: “Subject to the provisions of Aarticle 159, every person may vote at an election if he or she is of the age eighteen years or upwards and is either a citizen of Guyana or a Commonwealth citizen domiciled and resident in Guyana.”

This call by Bond was then echoed by the main speaker of the night, Mr. Christopher Jones of the APNU faction, who, while referring to Bond’s earlier remark, said: “kick them out” should they (the youths) refuse to vote.

But this remark was not well received by Head of State, President Donald Ramotar, who, at a People’s Progressive Party (PPP) rally in the mining town of Linden on Sunday last, declared that the remark by Bond not only undermines the democratic right of a person who refuses to vote, but also undermines freedom of choice – a right which was granted under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The President posited that this remark, emanating from a young leader, was aimed at intimidation in the face of General and Regional Elections.