The Guyana National Youth Council (GNYC), which has commenced its youth voter education campaign, dubbed ‘Vote Like A Boss,’ says is a non-partisan registered non-governmental organisation.
The GNYC has come in for criticism from the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) over the decision of the Guyana Elections Commission (Gecom) to collaborate with it to encourage more youths to vote.
The PPP has accused the GYNC of being in collusion with the US-funded Leadership and Democracy (LEAD) project, which the government here has had several concerns over.
The youth organisation stated in a press release that while the LEAD programme is in fact a current donor, the GNYC is a legally registered independent NGO and that “the move towards launching this voter education campaign was requested by our members who want to be involved in the political processes without ascribing to any particular party as the GNYC’s mandate is a non-partisan one.”
The PPP says that the collaboration reeks of American interference via the LEAD project. On Monday, the party’s General Secretary Clement Rohee said, “As far at the PPP is concerned this youth grouping is a creature of external interference through the LEAD project and is nothing more than a group of partisan persons who are attempting to hijack the name Guyana National Youth Council.”
Rohee criticised the process by which Gecom and GNYC entered into a collaboration, accusing both Chief Election Officer Keith Lowenfield and Gecom Chairman Dr Steve Surujbally of overstepping their bounds.
He said the Gecom commissioners were never consulted on any such proposals and that in itself meant Gecom had no right to enter into any formal relationship with any group.
Rohee said the party would need more clarification of the collaboration and the connection between the GNYC and the US LEAD project.
On Tuesday the youth arm of the PPP, the Progressive Youth Organisation expressed concern over the involvement of Glen Bradbury, Head of the LEAD project. “The GNYC in no way speaks for or represents the thousands of youth under the PYO’s membership. As a matter of fact, the GNYC has no authority to conduct any business with Gecom on behalf of Guyanese youth,” the PYO stated on Tuesday.
The PYO added that “Similarly, the PYO believes that the GNYC has deeply rooted political interests and affiliations to opposition groups in our society which are trying desperately to access executive power through dubious means.”
The Council stated that its membership was inclusive and across the “political, geographical and ethnic spectrum” in Guyana.
The GNYC said that funding from LEAD and a partnership with Gecom had provided the NGO with an opportunity to increase its voter campaign awareness. “The campaign will include the use of social media, television, radio and face to face engagements,” the organisation stated.
Moreover, the Council noted that it was open to continue partnering with other organisations and individuals using its Facebook page, www.facebook.com/guyananyc.
In a statement on February 28, Gecom had said that in the interest of increasing the voter turnout of youths in Guyana on polling day, the GNYC would be working in consultation and collaboration with the electoral body in the production of messages for dissemination countrywide. It said that this decision was agreed upon when the GNYC met with Gecom.
Gecom said that it recognises the troubling global trends relative to youth participation in electoral processes, and intends to get involved with the GNYC, in meaningful ways.
“Gecom is committed to helping the GNYC in any way it can to assist young people to make a conscious effort to vote on Elections Day, and to also highlight the very real consequences non-participation in the electoral process can have on their lives,” the statement said.