The PPP assailed the opposition and “vulture” media in its second major rally held in Kitty yesterday with speakers urging that youths be educated about the past and turn out to vote on November 28 – the date announced for national elections.
It was left up to the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Ramotar to strike a more conciliatory tone and he pledged to work with the opposition once elected. Party leaders exuded confidence about another victory at the polls and in the four hour-long rally, derided the opposition and media, in at times, strident tones, in an effort to whip up the crowd of several thousands at its peak.
As the rally got underway amidst waving PPP flags and as loudspeakers blared the campaign’s theme of “Dem a watch meh,” the Government Information Agency released a proclamation by President Bharrat Jagdeo identifying November 28 as Election Day.
At the rally, Jagdeo also took the lead in attacking the opposition and sections of the media saying that he hoped that some of the local media would be “tried and sent to jail” by the United Nations.
He accused some of the media of being “henchmen” to the opposition and singled out Stabroek News, Kaieteur News and Demerara Waves, saying that these publications “hide” the pictures of turnout at the PPP rallies because they are biased. “We have not lost support. We have gained support,” he said. The President described sections of the media as “vultures” and “carrion crows” and said some are “hopeless.”
“They want to be treated objectively but they are not objective,” charged Jagdeo. He told the crowd that these media houses try to “disappear” the turnout and progress seen in the country. “Watch out for them,” he said. “This cup stands for freedom…freedom for even the vulture media” he said while brandishing a cup. He singled out CN Sharma but also announced that he will suspend the suspension of CNS Channel 6 until December 1 so the opposition would not have any excuse “so we can thrash their a..es.”
The president tackled APNU’s (A Partnership for National Unity) presidential candidate, David Granger saying that he was stuck in a time warp and his solution for everything is “bring back National Service.” He also attacked the Alliance for Change economic advisor, Sasenarine Singh and described the economic policies laid out by that party as “silly.”
Jagdeo was the penultimate speaker and prior to his speech, others stuck to a theme of urging the elderly to remind the youths of the past. “Let them tell you the hardship they faced in the past,” said Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs, Colin Croal. Lecturer at the University of Guyana, Emmanuel Cummings urged Afro-Guyanese to vote “solidly” for the PPP on Election Day while also calling on parents to remind their children of the past.
Presidential Advisor, Gail Teixeira said that the opposition has no answers for Guyana while the PPP has a history of responsible leadership. “We’re dealing with an opposition that is irresponsible and reckless,” she said, adding that the PNC in particular wants to control government without winning elections. In addition, she said, some media houses are behaving like the opposition and “try to control people‘s minds with misinformation.” The opposition, she said, is not ready for elections and APNU is a fossil and “still born.” Teixeira also included ACDA activist, Tacuma Ogenseye, as one of her targets.
“From henceforth, no Afro-Guyanese man, woman, child or leader should ever feel that coming out for the PPP is a risk,” Head of the Presidential Secretariat, Dr Roger Luncheon declared as he spoke on righting wrongs and miracles. He worked the pliable crowd chanting that the PNC is dead and its leader, Robert Corbin killed it, the AFC is dead and it was killed by its leader, Khemraj Ramjattan and the WPA is dead and it was killed by Rupert Roopnaraine.
In the keynote address, Ramotar spoke on developing the country further. He restated points made before about hydro-power, access to technology and education. By the time he spoke, sections of the crowd which had cheered Jagdeo, applauded Luncheon and jived to singers Fiona, Big Red, Vanilla and Mahendra Ramkellawan had begun to dissipate.
Ramotar said that it will be ensured that every Guyanese will have access to the most modern technology while education is also high on the agenda to serve the economic development of the country. He spoke of building new harbours and airport to make Guyana a transportation hub for the Caribbean and South America. He also challenged the private sector to do business in a different way.
The presidential candidate spoke of building a new hospital where the most modern services available anywhere in the world will be offered and the possibilities of health tourism. He also spoke about increased food production.
Turning to the opposition, he said that as President, “I will take their views into consideration…I will seek consensus.” However, if this cannot be reached, the decision will be taken to move the country forward, he stressed. He added that they will strive very hard to reach agreement. Ramotar said that they will continue to consolidate and advance democracy and pointed out that freedom of press is very vital. In referring to the Sharma case, he said that the opposition misrepresented this and he congratulated Jagdeo for his magnanimity with regards to Sharma. “Laws were broken and you have to have some kind of penalty to pay,” he said.
Meanwhile, turning out in support at the rally was trade unionist, Gillian Burton who had opposed the PPP in the past. She said that current programmes like the One Laptop Per Family Programme is one that will take Guyana’s youth forward. She said other parties do not have manifestos to provide information about what their plans are for the people of Guyana. She said her position is not backpedalling but is about “taking Guyana forward unitedly…”