Opposition parties must have access to all state-controlled media

Dear Editor,

Now that President Jagdeo has bowed to the pressure of the combined opposition and civil society (and Sharma will hopefully be back on the air), I urge the organizers to keep agitating for change. First the opposition parties contesting this year’s election must have access to all state controlled media. The elections commission must intervene to ensure that there is not only access but that there is equal time in primetime.

We cannot have free and fair elections if the opposition does not have free access to the public airwaves, to make their case to the people. This is the only way that we can have a somewhat level playing field. The incumbent PPP is already abusing state funds and state resources (GUYSUCO trucks transporting supporters etc) to conduct their elections campaign. This gives them an unfair advantage and should be addressed by GECOM.

Denying the AFC and APNU access to NCN and public radio constitutes rigging, because it creates an unfair advantage. Co-mingling public funds and using government resources; creates an unfair advantage. These issues must be addressed immediately by the elections commission if we will have free and fair election.

We must also have elections that are free from fear. Mr. Jagdeo the fear-monger in chief has to be reined in. The action taken against channel six was nothing more than intimidation aimed at sending a message to other media houses to behave themselves “or else!”. Police officers and agents of the state have to be warned and educated, and not allow themselves to be used as enforcers for the PPP. We already have evidence of a senior police officer asking someone to remove an APNU shirt at a public gathering at the square of the revolution. This type of fear tactics cannot be allowed, and we must keep speaking out and sending messages to the relevant authorities.

Opposition parties must be given primetime slots to make their case to the electorate. The editor of the Guyana Chronicle must immediately grant space in the pages of that paper for parties to communicate with the voters. To deny the opposition is to deny the voter an opportunity to make an informed decision.

The opposition and civil society must continue to agitate for change. They must continue to demand access, and issue an ultimatum to the government to end the current opposition media black-out on the public airwaves. The people through their representatives must be heard, we must continue to march, to hold vigils and demand free and fair elections. It’s time for change in Guyana.

Yours faithfully,
Mark Archer

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