“We don’t intend to have talks with the government while it continues to silence the people with the obnoxious move of prorogation. If they want dialogue, reconvene the parliament.” – Opposition Leader David Granger
By Kiana Wilburg
Referring to the country’s President as a “disgrace” and a “heartless Pharaoh”,
demanding that he “let the country go,” amid other anti-Ramotar chants, scores of frustrated citizens gathered for an intense two-hour pro-democracy protest outside the Office of the President yesterday. The demonstration was part of the parliamentary opposition’s promised series of protests.
The group was led by Opposition Leader David Granger and other executive members of A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) including Shadow Minister of Local Government, Ronald Bulkan, Chief Whip, Amna Ally and Parliamentarians, Annette Ferguson and Chris Jones.
Those participating gathered at the Square of the Revolution at 10:30am, where they huddled in groups, conversing on the state of affairs of the country and the need for the political opposition to “maintain the pressure on the government”.
While some finished up a late breakfast at the Square, others were seen changing over into their green T-shirts, to demonstrate their standing in solidarity with APNU and its avowed “fight for democracy”.
As the crowd waited for the arrival of the Opposition Leader, Kaieteur News columnist and political activist, Frederick Kissoon started off the proceedings at 11:11am . The slogans Kissoon shouted were well received and responded to, as he said, “Who must go?” the group firmly responded, “Donald must go.”
It was not long before Granger arrived on the scene to impart a few words of inspiration to the eager group before the start of the protest in front of the Office of the President on Vlissengen Road.
The APNU leader asserted emphatically that, “Eight days ago, President Donald Ramotar suspended your Parliament. It’s a dark day, but APNU is determined to give the people a new Guyana. It’s going to be a lawful, early, national protest.
This is bigger than APNU, the People’s National Congress Reform, and the Alliance For Change. We want to see religious organizations come out. We want to see the private sector, diplomatic corps, the non governmental organizations, come out and speak out, because what happened on November 10 is an insult to all Guyanese.”
Granger urged the gathering to ponder the frightening reality that it was only three years ago, that approximately, 175,000 citizens elected its representatives to hold a majority in the National Assembly, “and with one stroke of his pen, Ramotar said y’all can’t meet to discuss the matters of the people. Well heh! You know what heh means right?”
The protestors answered in the affirmative and also with loud laughter.
Granger then charged, “We ain’t tekking that.”
He then reiterated that the protest was going to be peaceful and stressed that the voice of the citizenry must be heard. Granger said that based on consultations, he has been “more than reassured” that from the religious community to the diplomatic corps and even the business sector, “all are fed up with the Ramotar administration.”
The Opposition leader emphasized to the protestors that when parliament reconvenes, “Ramotar will not face a quiet, docile parliament, he will face a people who will bring the No-Confidence Motion before them, because we have no confidence in the Donald Ramotar administration. He has turned this country into a dictatorship”.
As he called on them to raise their placards and engage in a non-violent dissent, he invited them to return on November 25, to “keep the pressure” until Ramotar reconvenes the Parliament.
On that note, the group made its way to the President’s Office. They marched in two lines, back and forth. An invigorated Annette Ferguson led most of the chants. The “charged-up” Parliamentarian shouted out as she pointed to the President’s Office, “Who is in there?” which elicited the response, “Quack, Quack, Quack.” The reference was being made to President Donald Ramotar, who Ferguson in a later mantra referred to as “Donald Duck.”
Protestors held high, placards which read, “Donald Shame on You”, “No to dictatorship yes to democracy”, and “Lame duck President, Lame duck Parliament.”
While calm, the stirring emotion of the protest caught the attention of many. So much so, that a mother of two who seemed late for an appointment, parked her vehicle and joined the action for about five minutes.
She told Kaieteur News, “I wanted to be here since early this morning (yesterday) but I couldn’t make it. I thought I missed it, but now that I see the protest going on I feel inspired. I feel like at least one group of people is serious about getting a change in this country. And I want to ensure I lend my efforts to the cause, even if is just for about five minutes. This situation that this country is in is saddening, but we can’t continue to be silent. We just can’t. This President is a disgrace. He has disgraced this country to the whole world. He has to go.”
While the Head of State told media operatives last week that he is going to treat the Opposition’s current aversion to discussions, as a “first response” and just an emotional high which he hopes will be removed soon and give way to dialogue, Granger during a brief interview reassured that “no way” will there be talks.
“We don’t intend to have talks with the government while it continues to silence the people with the obnoxious move of prorogation. If they want dialogue, reconvene the parliament.”
Though police presence was evident – with more than eight officers lining the lawns of the Office of the President – the protest was deemed a peaceful one.
One 70-year-old grandfather at the protest sought to share his views with this publication.
“I am just frustrated with this whole situation. The greatest trick the devil ever performed was making some people feel as though he does not exist. Some Guyanese have been convinced that there is no hope. But there is. You see, the problem with Guyanese people is that we have suffered for so long that we seem to have forgotten how to fight. We have been mentally beaten and manipulated, and our people honestly think that the government has grown into an undefeatable beast.
One man alone can’t take down this evil alone. We have to stand together, the power is in coming together, but we cannot talk today and rest down tools tomorrow. You have to keep hammering and hammering. That is the only thing this government understands or else they would not take the people or the well-intentioned opposition seriously.”
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