Pledging a “clean” government that would place the Corentyne at the forefront of the Guyanese economy, leaders of the APNU+AFC alliance promised greater accountability if elected to office even as they highlighted that the PPP is no longer the party of its founder, the late President Dr Cheddi Jagan.
Addressing thousands of supporters at Whim on the Corentyne, the alliance’s leadership promised good governance, security, greater accountability in office and jobs, while highlighting the failures of the ruling PPP in these areas. Speakers tackled the issue of race head-on, recalling their personal experiences and saying that it is time for unity. If elected to government, they said, they would be there to serve.
If Dr Jagan was alive, he would have endorsed the APNU+AFC alliance, the Prime Ministerial Candidate Moses Nagamootoo declared. Yesterday’s rally was seen as a key test of the alliance’s ability to draw support in Nagamootoo’s village which is also a PPP/C stronghold.
“We are going to serve the people of this country and if we do not….the right to vote us out you must exercise,” AFC leader Khemraj Ramjattan told the thousands who turned up in Whim. A significant amount came from the city. In a festive atmosphere, the greens and yellows of the clothing of the supporters overflowed the narrow rural street and flags waved and persons danced to rousing music. The rally began almost two hours past the advertised 4pm start time with Nagamootoo and then Granger being escorted by pumped-up supporters to the stage.
Nagamootoo, describing the gathering as the largest in Whim that he has ever seen in 54 years of political life, also said that it was the largest multiethnic grouping, he has seen. He declared that Whim has an opportunity to produce its first prime minister and plugged his credentials saying that power has not corrupted him. “I walked away from power,” he noted pointing out that he resigned twice as a minister of government.
He said that he has never asked nor received an inch of State land and never asked nor lived in a house provided by the State. He noted that he has been attacked since leaving the PPP. After stating what he has done and who he is, Nagamootoo asked the crowd if they know who he is and was met with a resounding “yes.”
He then asked the crowd if they knew the PPP’s Prime Ministerial candidate Elisabeth Harper. “No,” was the resounding response. Making it clear that domestic violence is of great concern, Nagamootoo asserted that Harper wants to be Prime Minister because and to advocate against domestic violence. But if she was so concerned about domestic violence, he questioned, why is she on the same platform with former president Bharrat Jagdeo who has been accused of abusing his former wife.
He criticized President Donald Ramotar and Jagdeo and suggested that it is Jagdeo who is pulling the reins of government. He said that Ramotar is overshadowed by a “fake” who has spent billions on sugar but when he left office, he left the sugar industry broken and sugar workers are currently in a state of uncertainty. He also criticized a number of projects including the spending of taxpayers’ money on the Marriott Hotel.
He also said that only a “fake” would try to compare himself to the late president Dr Cheddi Jagan and only a hypocrite and ingrate would find fault with the late Dr Jagan. Jagdeo has faced growing criticism after he sought to compare his lifestyle to that of former presidents Cheddi and Janet Jagan.
Code of conduct
Nagamootoo pledged that should the alliance get into government, it will cut waste and corruption. He also said that they alliance wants to have a code of conduct for decency of ministers and would increase public workers salaries, raise the pension, revise and reduce the Berbice River bridge toll in its first 100 days in office, change and reform the constitution, and name a date of local government elections in their first 100 days in office. “We want to bring democracy to Guyana,” he said.
The alliance PM candidate promised a “real” government that will fix the sugar industry, get better prices for rice, restructure ownership of the Berbice River bridge and cut the toll by half as well as restore lands taken away unfairly and open new lands for farmers. He said that the election is about choosing a prime ministerial candidate who they know and who can serve the people. He also highlighted the difference in character between the alliance Presidential Candidate David Granger and President Donald Ramotar.
Nagamootoo declared that the PPP is no longer the party of Jagan. “You too must have the courage to walk from this evil,” he said.
Nagamootoo related a number of statements made by the late Dr Jagan and said that had the late president been alive today, he would have endorsed the alliance. He also recalled that in 1998, when he was part of the planning for the PPP, Granger was seen as a potential ally.
He said that it was time to turn a new page. The picture of the past cannot be changed but Granger entered political life as a moderate and who wants to change the country, Nagamootoo asserted.
He noted that the alliance has been criticized and the PPP had said that the “marriage” would not work but noting his decades-long marriage to his wife Sita and Granger’s even longer marriage to his wife Sandra, said that they know to make marriages work. “We know this marriage can work…there will be no divorce here,” he declared.
He said that he has clean hands and has never failed Whim and pleaded for them to walk with the coalition and vote.
Meantime, Granger pledged that under an APNU+AFC administration, the Corentyne would be at the “cutting edge” of Guyana’s economy. He said that the alliance has a mission to protect and develop the area and the PPP has taken it for granted. “The PPP has failed Corentyne,” he declared. “We have clean hands and we’re gonna clean up this mess.”
Granger pledged to make the Corentyne safe for fishermen, women, and investors even as he highlighted the poor security situation in the area including piracy, murders and armed robberies. “Who is going to protect you? I’m going to protect you,” he declared. “We’re going to make Corentyne safe again.”
Granger pledged to “eradicate” piracy and stem the tide of migration as well as suicides. The alliance wants to create a stronger Corentyne and create an investment climate so that the diaspora can return and feel safe, he said while adding that they will make the area the cutting edge of economy. He also spoke about supporting investment, jobs for young people and agro-processing.
However, to get these things done, he said that they will have to get into government. He said that Corentyne issues have been ignored by the PPP and the APNU+AFC alliance will deliver good governance.
In his remarks, Ramjattan said that he was initially worried about what the turnout in the Corentyne would be but the size of the crowd last evening would vindicate the decision to form the alliance.
He assured that the grouping is not going to close the sugar industry but intend to make it profitable again. The AFC leader said that the board of the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) has not performed and it has to be gotten rid of. He highlighted instances where he said significant amounts of money were lost due to the recklessness, “almost criminal” acts of the board. Ramjattan pointed out that GuySuCo has to be bailed out all the time even as the entity loses money as a result of bad marketing. The removal of the PPP would be good for the sugar industry, he said.
As it relates to rice, he accused the PPP of forming a group that reaps the profits from the PetroCaribe deal with Venezuela and questioned why some of the profits from the industry were not used to put in place additional storage facilities as he had suggested before.
2015 will be the first stage towards the resolution of the racial division in this country, he said, while adding that only the APNU+AFC alliance can resolve this issue and they must ensure that it comes to an end. He declared that there is lots more that the alliance government will bring to the fore and urged supporters not to be bothered by the “bullyism of Jagdeo.”
Ramjattan said that a tidal wave will wipe away the PPP government and assured that an APNU+AFC government will be there to serve and if they do not, then they should be voted out.
Other speakers including Supriya Singh-Bodden also highlighted a number of issues and stated that the PPP is no longer the party of the Jagans. She said that the PPP mistake their own prosperity and the prosperity of their friends as the prosperity of 99 percent of the Guyanese people. Dr Jagan’s vision has been “smashed” she said while adding that there are a few people in the party who still want to uphold that vision but they cannot.
AFC activist Dr Verasammy Ramayya also spoke and urged unity and said that the alliance must deliver. “If this team does not perform in 5 years, I want you to vote them out,” he declared.