By Jomo Paul
[www.inewsguyana.com] – A Partnership For National Unity (APNU) Youth Leader James Bond says Guyana’s youth should play a pivotal role in the development of national policies and democratic processes.
This comes after the General Secretary of the People’s Progressive Party/Civic Clement Rohee scolded the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) for engineering a partnership with the Guyana National Youth Council geared towards increasing voter education.
Rohee at a press conference on Monday said “The organisation claiming to represent Guyana’s youth has no authority to do so, as far as the PPP is concerned this youth grouping is a creature of external interference through the LEAD ( US Leadership and Democracy) project and is nothing more than a group of partisan persons who are attempting to hijack the name Guyana National Youth council.”
But Bond in an interview with iNews on Thursday, March 05 said that the objection by the PPP/C can only be seen as a “blatant attack on youth involvement” in Guyana’s democracy.
He articulated that Guyana’s youth need to have a tangible amount of participation in the decision making processes of the country as a democratic state.
“It does not matter if GECOM were to go to the PYO (Progressive Youth Organisation) and work with the PYO to bring out the votes, I have no qualms with that. I have no qualms with any young person working with GECOM to bring out this kind of impact,” Bond said.
He contended that he could not fathom why anyone or any organisation for that matter would “frown upon such a step taken by GECOM to engage the young people. Young People are the greatest assets we have in this country let them participate.”
Bond concluded that Rohee was “off his hinges” when the statement was made.
“When the cadre of APNU MP’s is ready to engage with GECOM; nothing like the likes of Rohee can’t stop us,” asserted Bond.
When contacted, Chairman of GECOM Dr Steve Surujbally retorted that GECOM stands ready to engage any youth organisation, including those that are aligned to political parties.
“Anybody who asks us; if it’s the boy scouts, girls scouts, Muslim youths, Hindu youths, Ghandi youths, whoever. I am tempted to say even the PYO and the GYSM. Anybody who asks us….whoever wants us to speak with them, we will speak,” Dr Surujbally told iNews.
Meanwhile, APNU/AFC in a joint statement said that its rejects and dismisses the condemnations and protestations of the PPP General Secretary with regard to the Guyana Elections Commission working with the Guyana National Youth Council in an effort to encourage young people to vote at the May 11 General and Regional elections.
“The right to vote is a constitutional one and Mr. Rohee condemning an effort to encourage young people to exercise their franchise is disturbing and bizarre,” said APNU+AFC Campaign Co-Chairman Raphael Trotman in the statement.
The statement underscored that “Guyana National Youth Council and their financiers have every right to execute a campaign to sensitize young people, who, in many instances, are first time voters. The campaign is designed to educate young voters of the need to vote and be part of the democratic process of selecting a government of their choice.”
It was noted that Rohee’s call can only be interpreted as an attempt to silence the voice of young people.
“It has become obvious that the beleaguered PPP is afraid of the voice of young people who have had enough of their mismanagement and corruption. Young people have no confidence in another PPP government and Mr. Rohee and Freedom House are well aware of this and seem to be employing subversive means of intimidation in attempting to cow young voters from casting their ballot,” the release stated.
The coalition said it explicitly supports the efforts of the GNYC and all other organizations and agencies engaged in sensitizing young people about the need to vote.