DISCIPLINED Services ranks will be vote today at over 80 locations across Guyana and the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) is “ready,” according to its Chairman, Dr Steve Surujbally.Over 7,400 ranks from the Guyana Police Force (GPF), the Guyana Defence Force (GDF), the Prison Service and Fire Service will be voting today.
“Everything is in place, logistically and otherwise. Everything is on track,”the GECOM Chairman assured the Guyana Chronicle in an invited comment.
GECOM’s Chief Elections Officer (CEO), Keith Lowenfield, reiterated:“We have security measures in place at all our locations,” he said.
POLLING PLACES IDENTIFIED
Commissioner of Police Seelall Persaud, his divisional commanders and some other senior officers will vote at the Police Officers Mess at Eve Leary, in Georgetown.Other police ranks will vote at various other polling places as identified by the GECOM for members of the Guyana Police Force.
Meanwhile, over at the Guyana Defence Force, soldiers will vote at all GDF bases across the country, as well as at the Army’s “Agri” Corps, according to Chief of Staff, Brigadier Mark Phillips.
Brigadier Phillips, in an earlier interview, had said that all arrangements are in place for voting and the ranks would be voting at a number of bases, including Camp Ayanganna, Camp Stephenson, the New Amsterdam Barracks, Coast Guard Headquarters, the Soesdyke-Linden Highway, and Anna Regina. Brigadier Philips will vote at Base Camp Ayanganna.According to him, his plans for the day would be to follow his normal routine, which would include physical exercise, having a bath and breakfast before heading to cast his ballot.
Asked about the security arrangements at the level of the Joint Services in the lead-up to elections and thereafter, the chief of staff said that everything is in place. He confirmed that the monies requested from the Government to take care of joint services ranks while they are in lying have been approved and received.
Also speaking on the issue of today’s voting was Head of the Guyana Prison Service, WeltonTrotz, who said that he will cast his ballot at the Guyana Prison Service Sports Club on Camp Street, opposite the Camp Street jail.
He said also that there will be voting at the other sport clubs at prisons across the country such as at New Amsterdam, Timehri, Mazaruni, and Lusignan.
The presidential candidates of the major political parties have both made public appeals for support from the disciplined services, in letters that have been widely publicised.
People’s Progressive Party/ Civic (PPP/C) presidential candidate and incumbent Head of State, Donald Ramotar, in a letter expressed appreciation to the ranks of the disciplined services over the last three years of his tenure.
“I am humbled by the support I have received over the past three years from the leadership of the disciplined services. I am aware that there is much scope for improvements in terms of all three organisations that comprise the disciplined services and I want to assure you of my unwavering support going forward, as together we strive to improve the capabilities of your respective organisations and the well-being of their officers and other ranks,” he said.
Mr Ramotar added, “Come May 2, 2015, as you head to the polls to cast your votes, I ask you to consider the strides that our country has made. I ask you to consider the improvements made in your organisations. I ask you in all humility to once again repose your confidence in the PPP/C by re-electing me when you cast your important vote.”
The leader of the next major political party, presidential candidate for the Alliance of A Partnership for National Unity and the Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC), Brigadier (rtd) David Granger, in a letter of his own committed to supporting the ranks of the disciplined services.
“An APNU+AFC government and the nation’s security forces, together, will enable you to make our beloved country safe for the next generation. I urge you, therefore, to vote for APNU+AFC at the General and Regional elections,” Brigadier (rtd) Granger said.
Additionally, according to a notice from GECOM, the ballots cast by non-resident electors and the disciplined forces electors will be sorted on Monday, May 4 at its Kingston office. After that the ballots will be intermixed and counted at the residences in divisions, sub divisions where these ranks ordinarily reside.
Agents for the political parties contesting the May 11 General and Regional elections are also expected to be privy to the proceedings, in an effort to ensure that the process is free and fair. Several observer groups are also expected to do the same.(Additional reporting by Leroy Smith)
By Vanessa Narine