[www.inewguyana.com] – The Alliance For Change (AFC) is of the view that the preliminary report of the Commonwealth Observer Mission to the recently held Sri Lanka Elections provides many lessons for Guyana.
AFC’s Parliamentarian, Cathy Hughes told a press conference on Thursday, January 15 that it is expected that the Guyana government would use the report to improve the local environment ahead of the country’s elections “especially in light of the fact that former President Bharrat Jagdeo led the Mission that issued the report.”
According to the Report, the Observers found that, “The election campaign period was marked by an unequal contest with extensive, large-scale abuse of state resources. They noted the comprehensive bias of state media against the Common Opposition Candidate’s campaign; the use of military personnel and public officials to support the President’s campaign; the use of Government monies, gifts and other inducements; and, the widespread use of state-owned public transport by the incumbent.”
According to Mrs Hughes, the AFC has over the years spoken out against these very conditions in Guyana.
“Even now, we have the situation in Amerindian Villages where persons are given a stipend to work as Community Support Officers but everyone knows it is a ruse to buy the votes of Amerindians. As time for the Polls draws closer it would be like Christmas all over again with the Government playing a Santa Clause role, handing out tractors, boats and engine, busses, fixing roads and bridges that were not even looked at since the last election. Communities will get money to fix their playgrounds, there will be donations for youth groups and sports clubs, all of this to induce the electorate to vote for the incumbent.”
She explained that these ‘gifts’ would actually be provided from the national coffers and are aimed at tricking the Guyanese people that it is being funded directly by the PPP.
“At all previous elections, the incumbent is known for using state-owned public transport for campaigning. When criticized, they would claim to be conducting ‘Government business’ but everyone knows they are campaigning. It is ridiculous how many flights to the interior and how many trips to Berbice and Essequibo have to be made to conduct ‘government business’ during campaign period. It leaves one to wonder whether any business was done before the campaign period,” Mrs Hughes said.
She also pointed out the issue of biased coverage provided by NCN and the Chronicle to favour the government.
“It is good that the former president and executive member of the PPP led the Commonwealth Observer Mission, if for no other reason than to learn what acceptable campaign practices are. The former President now has a responsibility to share what he learnt with his party and speak out where corrective is not taken.”