Leaders of the opposition coalition A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) on Friday asked Linden to support what presidential candidate David Granger said was the only movement committed to creating an inclusionary democracy.
“We are not here to fool you. We are not here to exclude you,” Granger said, while underscoring the APNU’s commitment to Linden and the rest of Guyana at the coalition’s Region 10 launch. Although Linden has been traditionally a support base for the main opposition PNCR, it lost ground there to both the PPP/C and the AFC at the last elections.
With unemployment one of the major issues in Linden, Granger promised the sizeable audience at the Mackenzie Bus Park an economy based on the participation of all. “It is our partnership that will erect an economy in which you will have a space,” he said, while adding that PPP/C has failed in this regard, since it has turned the country into a ‘narco-state,’ with a culture that he described as a “kleptocracy.” He also accused the PPP/C of squandering taxpayers’ dollars to cover up its failures.
According to Granger, addressing mass underemployment and unemployment has to be a priority to avert the economy’s disintegration. “Jobs will be developed through the agro-industry and education,” he stated, while saying that the PPP/C has “no idea about a development strategy.” He added that the APNU will establish partnerships with businesses, civil society and the private sector. “Consultation, collaboration and cooperation will be our watchwords,” he assured.
In his address, Granger also highlighted the country’s crime situation as well as failings in the education sector. On the latter point, he noted failure rates in English, as well as poverty. He added that the APNU would reform the education sector as it understands the role of education. He said too that it will create a package to retain and attract teachers from overseas. In addition to the PNCR, the APNU comprises the WPA, GAP, NFA, GPP, the Guyana National Congress and the Guyana Association of Local Authorities.
Like Granger, WPA co-leader Dr Rupert Roopnaraine also stressed the APNU’s emphasis on inclusion. Roopnaraine noted that as a member of the WPA, he had vast experience within political partnerships over the years, but the APNU is the strongest of them all.
“Over the past fifty years, this is the first open coalition. It is not a closed coalition. Its doors are open for all to enter,” he said.
Roopnaraine, who has been criticised by the PPP/C for participating in a coalition with the PNCR, noted the success of the unity of late former presidents Forbes Burnham and Dr. Cheddi Jagan in fighting the “colonial conspiracy” prior to independence. He further stressed the importance of healing a racial division of the people, saying that over the past years the people of Guyana have experienced hurts and injuries that must be repaired. “Right here in Wismar, Mackenzie, this was the epicentre of the tragedy of division,” he stated.
Roopnaraine also emphasised that despite banding together in a bid to unseat the PPP/C, the individual parties in the APNU remained intact. “I’ve come to tell you that the parties within the partnership are all alive and well,” he said, to loud cheers.
He added that the assurance was necessary since those with what he called “a bankruptcy of ideas,” have been going to communities in Region 10 and spreading the misrepresentation that the PNCR had been dissolved, while at the same time going to other communities and portraying the APNU as the PNCR in disguise.
Meanwhile, former PNC Finance Minister Carl Greenidge spoke primarily on economic reform as envisaged by the APNU, which he said would rest on ensuring the law of the land prevails. He spoke on the awarding of contracts and said the rule of law is essential if contracts are to be honoured and if commerce is to be undertaken in a civil way. “That’s why the courts would need to be reformed; that’s why the police force also would need to be reformed,” he said, adding that there is need “to ensure that the law is applicable to all.”
He also noted the cultural assault being perpetuated on the residents of Linden as a result of the state’s monopoly on radio and television there. He said the situation inhibits residents from being aware of what is happening in other sectors of the country. The lone TV station at Linden has three channels, all of which are controlled by the state-run National Communications Network (NCN).
The APNU programme lasted for approximately two hours. It was chaired by PNCR veteran Valarie Sharpe-Adams, with the assistance of Sharma Solomon. It included cultural presentations, including African drumming, singing and dancing.