Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : May 10th 2015 Contents is vigorous.
The campaign rallies have been temper-
ature-raising but supporters have, by and
large, walked, ridden or driven quietly away.
This has been, more or less, the sum of
the open "conflict" evoked by the cam-
As the opposition sees it, the People s
Progressive Party/Civic (PPPC) has ruled
for 23 years as a corrupt group of greedy,
incompetent politicians who have enriched
themselves and their friends, way beyond
the reach of even the traditionally wealthy
class of mineral extractors, rice farmers and
other incarnations of "old money."
To the PPPC, the opposition coalition
represents the sinister courtship of break-
away elements from its own ranks by the
People s National Congress (PNC) which
ruled with an iron, authoritarian fist
between 1964 and 1992, now presenting
itself in less than clever disguise as APNU.
The giant elephant of ethnicity in the
room is also hardly missed or ignored. There
have been open references, by the ruling
party, to the racially motivated riots of the
1960s and more recent confrontations fea-
turing agitated Afro-Guyanese demonstra-
tors and mobs. In this regard, the PPPC
frontline, led for the most part by the polar-
ising former president Bharrat Jagdeo, has
been seen to have gratuitously mounted
PPPC prime ministerial candidate Elis-
abeth Harper has meanwhile borne the
brunt of an ad hominem campaign often
bordering on the misogynistic. There has
also been the unrestrained naming by oppo-
sition operatives of people deemed to have
either contributed to or benefited from
alleged corruption and cronyism over the
In return, there have been constant
reminders of presidential candidate David
Granger s career as a senior military officer
who rose to the post of brigadier having,
according to the PPPC platform, lent active
support to the brutality of a PNC regime.
But invoking the longevity of PNC rule
carries with it the inconvenient reality of
the PPPC s own 23-year hold on power.
So, each claim of political malpractice up
to 1992 is met with equally forceful refer-
ence to the more recent years of PPPC rule.
It is not a strategy that has worked par-
ticularly well for the ruling party, especially
since a large proportion of tomorrow s voters
would have no living memory of the period
of PNC hegemony.
In the end, there is the hope that
Guyanese voters will focus on the "bread
and butter" issues of sustainable jobs, effi-
cient public health care, and modernised
education infrastructure, among others.
The Guyana Human Rights Association
(GHRA) says there should be a collective
aim "to ensure that this is the last ethni-
cally-fuelled elections the society has to
But to reduce tomorrow s contest to the
settling of ethno-based grouses would be
to oversimplify the far more complex
dynamic of perceived alienation and a grow-
ing sense that development statistics don t
always match reality at the mini-bus stand.
May 10, 2015 www.guardian.co.tt Sunday Guardian
In the absence of internal or publicly available
opinion polling and other empirical bases, calling
tomorrow s Guyana elections is left to a high level
of personal intuition and wilful disregard for both
mainstream and social media commentary, in a
country where independent political judgment
remains at a premium.
In many respects, elections in Guyana are the
country s biggest scheduled national event. This
year, the Guyana Elections Commission (Gecom),
for instance, has hired over 12,000 staff to man the
operations of 2,299 polling stations across the vast
expanse of CARICOM s largest country. Gecom is,
for now, the country s largest single employer.
At the helm is veterinarian Dr Steve Surujbally
who ought to share considerable credit for the current
positive state of the electoral process. Not President
Donald Ramotar, not David Granger, but Steve Suru-
jbally will be the most important person in town
over the next few days.
There are hopes that a declaration will not exceed
the potentially explosive wait of 72 hours as occurred
in 2011. Though Guyana is a relatively vast country
with remote communities, it is to be hoped that
Gecom has worked out a way to accelerate the col-
lating and announcement of the count.
Announcements by more than one observer group
that there are "excellent" arrangements for the poll
have helped ease the worst fears. The Carter Center s
David Carrol has already gone on record as saying
that because of the high level of competition,
"depending on the quality of the electoral process,
there might be reluctance to accept the results." The
tight outcome of 2011 and shenanigans of the ensuing
years challenge the fear of pervasive, outright violence,
though the possibility of regime change may well
prove his point. We shall see.
There is little knowledge of the extent to which
economic activity has been stimulated by the cam-
paign or where the bloated revenue streams have
flowed. Suffice it to say, there has been no shortage
of largesse or campaign paraphernalia or claims of
outright political bribery.
For the most part, the sharing of lampposts for
campaign buntings has gone without substantial
confrontation though hacks have, in some areas,
defaced massive campaign billboards. A few smaller
neighbourhood rallies have also brought out
the hecklers and debate at the mini-bus stand
Guyana's watershed elections
C B p -A A A '
& B A x
A ' - - p y PHOTO: DARREN RAMPERSAD
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