Launch of new political party postponed

-after clashes with Indigenous Heritage Month celebrations

Lenox Shuman

The launch of the new Amerindian-based political party floated by Lenox Shuman, former Deputy Chairman of the National Toshaos Council, has been postponed from the end of this month to a date to be announced.

Shuman told Sunday Stabroek that the postponement was due to clashes with events scheduled for Indigenous Peoples’ Heritage Month celebrations, which are being held throughout this month as well as getting structures in place for the launch.

For example, he said heritage celebrations are on at St Ignatius Village, in the Rupununi, on the September 28th weekend, when the launch was initially planned for, and people from that community would like to be a part of the event.

Some of the other people interested in the new party, Shuman said, have indicated that they would like to be present at the launch but they are also organising end of month activities for their villages to close off the month-long heritage celebrations.

“Apart from the conflicting scheduling with our members,” Shuman said, “they want to have our constitution done before the launch, along with our code of conduct, and our principles and we are slightly behind on that.”

Last month, Shuman, who, in June, threw out the idea of contesting the 2020 general elections, told this newspaper that the party did not want to conflict with the main heritage celebrations but still wanted to cap off the month with the launch of “A party by the people, for the people,” which appears to be the new party’s slogan.

At the time he floated the idea, Shuman had said that Indigenous Peoples as citizens of Guyana, were tired “of how we are treated” and “still begging for our lands, begging for our rights. We are seeing townships being established without our consent. We only get 2%. We have an education system that is failing us. We are seeing a non-movement on constitutional reform. We have a system that is failing our women and children – UNICEF Report. And the list goes on. Don’t wait for change. Be the change you want to see.”

In a subsequent interview, he had told this newspaper that an Indigenous Peoples-based party could bring a balance of power in the Parliament between the two main political parties, the People’s National Congress Reform, which is supported by mainly African Guyanese, and the People’s Progressive Party, which gets its majority support from the local East Indian population.         

A founding member of the party, who prefers anonymity until the party is launched, told Sunday Stabroek yesterday that while some members are eager for the launch, “it was imperative that we have certain structures in place, including the constitution and other instruments of the party so that they could be ratified when the membership meets at a congress.”

The mechanisms, he said, “will have to be put in place for elections to be held for the party’s leadership because what we have in place right now is just an interim steering committee. We want to have all the structures in place so that we can launch on a proper platform.” 

While a number of people from the coastland were behind the formation of the party, he said, some have pulled out for reasons known only to them, but some have remained. “Even though, we have not done any fan out exercises,” he said, “Guyanese from all ethnicities, including both African- and Indo- Guyanese have expressed an interest in the party. People from many Amerindian communities are also waiting for the launch,” he noted.

The current objective, he said, is to launch the party before the year ends. 

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