By Radha Motielall
The Party’s lead candidate, Mark Benschop in outlining their vision for a new Guyana, admitted that the things his Party is most passionate about and will be championing are those which were experienced first-hand by himself while passing through the systems and from his daily work of “fighting for people’s rights and against injustices”.
Speaking of judicial reforms, the IP is proposing a review of the laws pertaining to marijuana. Their belief is that too many young people are being criminalized for, most often “a mistake” in smoking a joint.
Benschop said they “do not support jail for very small amount, you cannot stains one’s life, one’s future, especially a young person; because of … maybe a silly mistake of smoking a joint or being caught with a small amount of marijuana…it is unacceptable,” he told iNews during an interview.
He said jail terms for minor infractions, criminalizes and damage the youths’ outlook and future, adding that alternative punishments are needed, given the fact that the Camp Street Prison for instance is still overcrowded and that many of the inmates are petty offenders.
Benschop reminded of the late President’s writings in the West on Trial about there being more criminals outside of the prisons than inside. Another major focus for the IP is education and more particularly, the University of Guyana.
The IP leader noted that hundreds of students take loans to complete their education and when they leave they have no job. He then questioned how they are supposed to even repay those loans. His party is therefore proposing to push through Parliament, an idea to wipe off the loans of past students and slash the cost for incoming students by 50%.
But how confident is he about securing a seat in Parliament?
According to Benschop, he is very optimistic that the IP will grab a few seats and their strength he said is in Regions Four and Ten, two of the six regions they are contesting. The others are regions, 2, 3, 5, and 6.
Benschop said when in Parliament, the populace can expect to see some differences, since his Party will be serving the people and not the other way around. He said for instance, they will not accept any Parliamentary duty free concessions for vehicles, adding that the money when added up for 65 Parliamentarians is a lot that can be used wisely, on the people who really need it.
Commenting on the current campaigns being conducted by the two major parties, Benschop said those playing race politics and preaching violence should be reexamined and penalized.
He challenged that “voters are not concerned about what happened decades ago,” noting that both major parties cannot deny making mistakes, “because they both have.”
He argued that Guyanese are looking for fresh blood, new ideas and positive things that can open their thinking as to how a democracy ought to be.
And so the Independent Party he said has taken a different approach, by going out and talking to the people.
“Talk to them about instilling hope and giving them that opportunity to breathe again, to move away from the politics of the past and look to the future”.
He said the young voters should not be saddled with the burden or the political hostility that existed between the two major parties and so their message is one of hope.