By Gary Eleazar
A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) last evening shared the stage with the Alliance for Change (AFC) at a massive rally venued at the Square of the Revolution to hear from the thousands who turned out so that their input can be crafted into a strategy to respond to the President’s Proclamation to prorogue Parliament.
Young and old, male and female, abled and disabled turned out in a resounding show of support and were in unison with the leaders who called for, among other things, immediate General Elections and Constitutional Reform.
The rally started shortly before 18:00hrs and lasted for just over three hours and saw presentations from Opposition Leader David Granger, AFC Chairman, Nigel Hughes, Working Peoples’ Alliance (WPA) Leader Dr. Rupert Roopnarine, Guyana Youth and Student Movement Leader, Ryan Belgrade and Members of Parliament Basil Williams, Keith Scott, Volda Lawrence and Sydney Allicock.
Brigadier (rtd) Granger who was introduced as the ‘President in waiting’ was welcomed to the podium amidst a reverberating applause and wasted no time in denouncing President Ramotar whom he labeled a dictator.
According to the Opposition leader, for three years the President has not reached out to the thousands who voted for the joint opposition at the 2011 elections.
He accused the President of being oblivious to the plights of the ordinary people since he lives among the ‘big shots’
Granger was adamant that over the past three years the President has refused to discuss pertinent issues of concern to the political opposition and the people they represent including the holding of Local Government Elections among other big ticket items.
Calling for immediate elections, Granger reminded that at the last elections more than 120,000 people did not vote and said this must not be repeated.
He said that APNU has been meeting with people across the country including at places once considered PPP strongholds and the feedback is that they are fed up with the ruling administration.
“People all over want development and the administration is not delivering that,” said Granger.
The President, he said is ducking the issues and “we must stop this ducking behaviour.”
“You have brought the Square of the Revolution alive because you want to tell Ramotar that the PPP must go…He can duck but he got to come up for air.”
Granger sent a warning to President Ramotar that as soon as he reconvenes the Parliament, he will be met with a no confidence motion and a united opposition.
“Go Donald go, go out of government,” was the chant led by the Opposition leader who remarked that the thousands who turned up at Square of the Revolution last evening wanted to send a message that they are fed up with the lies and deceit of the Administration.
AFC Chairman Nigel Hughes was also welcomed to the podium with a boisterous ovation. In his usual articulate manner he pledged the support of his party in the fight against the ‘dictatorship’ that the President has invoked.
According to Hughes, the President by proclamation has transformed Guyana from a Republic to that of a Kingdom where he rules by proclamation.
Hughes warned that the current state of affairs cannot be allowed to continue and Guyanese must know that regardless of their political persuasion, race or religion, every citizen will be affected by Ramotar’s decision and that all Guyanese must “stand up.”
He was adamant that when the Republic is threatened all are affected regardless of which party they support.
Hughes warned that these are serious times and the issue at hand is not something to joke about and that Guyanese can’t allow their children to walk back to colonialism.
He said that the message from AFC is that the President’s action has plunged the country into a crisis; into deep uncharted waters and is an egregious wrong that must be righted.
The AFC, he said, will be unwavering in holding government to account. Time is of the essence and timely action is necessary if the country is to avoid long term damage, according to Hughes.
The AFC Chairman also called on the international community to come to the assistance of Guyana in resolving the impasse.
He was adamant that even the framers of the Constitution could not envisage that it would be used in such a “vulgar way.”
Hughes said that what has happened must serve as the last straw and that solutions have to be permanent, beginning with the reform of the Constitution in order to save the country.
WPA Leader, Dr. Rupert Roopnarine, declared that the leadership of the party has embarked on the setting up of a broad coalition meant to include civil society, trade unions, churches and other stakeholders in order to chart and participate in the way forward.
Dr. Roopnarine said that there are indications that the President may want to dissolve parliament before six months and call election but “we in APNU ready.”
He reminded that the ruling PPP were staunch advocates of Parliament and its importance but this appears to have changed.
According to Dr. Roopnarine, “we will not be cowed, we will not be threatened.”
In vowing to sustain the resistance, Dr. Roopnarine warned that “we if necessary will put our lives on the line to preserve democracy.”
He was adamant that when the President, by proclamation excludes the joint opposition from the House, he is effectively excluding the people’s representation in the House.
According to Dr. Roopnarine, in the coming weeks the joint opposition will be calling on the people of Guyana from time to time in building an ocean of rebellion.
“We are at the starting of the long march” he said.
Responding to the Administration’s repeated overtures for talks, like the AFC leader who promised that there will be no extra parliamentary talks, Dr. Roopnarine said that they are not prepared to engage in futile discussions.
(See more stories in tomorrow’s edition)
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