The Federal United Party (FED UP) consisting of Berbice Attorney’s Ryan Crawford, Chandra Sohan and Horatio Edmonson was launched on Saturday at the Central Corentyne Chamber of Commerce building in Rose Hall Town.
Present were supporters from both the business sector and legal fraternity. The party will be contesting under the motto, “Unite for Survival” and says it seeks to move away from the existing “racial politics” within the country.
Attorney Chandra Sohan, no stranger to the limelight, said that it is time for “a new beginning, a new way of politics.”
He noted that “racial politics” has been and exists within the Opposition and the Coalition. According to Sohan, the state of the country and where it is perceived to be headed has become a concern and thus, has influenced their decision to start their own party.
“We have been looking at where this country is going for quite some time, we have been assessing where we were and it is very significant to me that when we look at where Guyana is, compared to where other countries are, we really have not made any progress”, Sohan added. He stressed that at himself and his fellow colleagues, now members of the party, were “disgusted” at what was taking place in Guyana and this drove things to a point where “we just got fed up”.
It was the party’s opinion that Berbice was not heading anywhere. This, he said, led to comparisons being made to other countries and the rate at which they were progressing, “countries who are less fortunate than we are, countries which don’t have the kind of resources that we have and yet they seem to be far more advanced than we are in Guyana”. After arriving at a final assessment, he said, they came to the realisation that “the race politics of this country is what is fighting us, the race politics of the main political parties in this country is taking us nowhere, all we see, from the time of Independence is that we are going around in a cycle”. Sohan added that with such an atmosphere existing, they felt that a third force/party was going to take the country by storm “but then we saw that their interest was more selfish than it was for nation building”. It was at that point, he said, that they began engaging the public about their views and all the while, “we kept hearing the word ‘fed up.’”
The Attorney underscored that the only way that the country can advance from its current state is through the implementation of electoral and constitutional reform. He says that this makes way for a change in the electoral system along with an avenue for proposed amendments that could alter the structure of the government.
Delving into the proposal made by the new party, Sohan said that the party is suggesting that the country be divided into 65 seats and at the national elections, a person can/may contest their constituency.
“If you should win your constituency, you go to parliament as compared to the system we have now which allows each political party to put up a slate of whatever number of candidates they want and whatever seat is allotted to that party they choose from that list of candidates, only one can go to parliament. That is not what the general opinion is as far as the constituency is concerned or the voters are concerned”, he said.
In the same vein, he focused his attention on Berbice and surmised that the county is being stifled, hence, “we need to take control of Berbice”. He further suggested to have Regions 5 and 6 merged.
“We are saying we can do a lot more with a constituency system and control over Berbice”. This he noted, has provided a medium to advocate for the Federal System, meaning to divide the country into three counties with each county being allowed its own administration, “that is nothing new to us as well because we have the regional system, all we are talking about is merging the regions into bigger equations.” This fundamentally means the reduction of powers from central government.
The party is also proposing a two term reform for members of parliament.
“You vote for your MP every two years, they go to parliament, they don’t perform for you, you the electorate or we the electorate have a right to remove them. You vote for your local government the same time, this is not going to incur any additional cost, it is one electoral system. We also suggest that you vote for your local government, your MP and your president, every four years, one time”.
Meanwhile, Attorney Ryan Crawford stated that the birthing of a political party was something that has always been on the table for him to do but mentioned that it was an idea floating around for the past two years when his colleague Sohan brought it to him. He believes, “that the people who are professing to take care of this country, when I compare myself, I know I can do better than them. I know I can do better by miles”. Crawford opined that the persons currently running the country and who want to run the country have their main objective as “political affiliation so that they can get advancement. You have seen people getting rich on the strength of the people’s money in this country. Everywhere you look, people are being punished for a political goal, people are joining political parties for whatever benefits they are gonna have. The good thing is, we do not need anything, we are not here to gain financial wealth, we are just here because of our greater concern for our people”.
One of the many concerns of the party, Crawford said, is the absence of the local content legislation that will allow for the protection of employment when foreign countries take anchor in Guyana. He stressed, “we must protect the people of this country in terms of employment so what an oil producing country would do, they would enact the local content legislation so when these foreign companies come, their employment percentage of the employees must be at a certain level but we have not done anything.” Crawford also argued that nothing was done to transition students from the University of Guyana into oil and gas nor has anything been done to transition cane farmers/cutters into something for oil and gas, “but what we have done, is gotten so busy with oil and gas and we don’t have a plan, no one knows anything what is happening and we just going about our business”.
Crawford also said that although there may be criticisms against him, he is prepared for whatever is thrown his way because he believes that Guyana does not have “a true democracy” but rather “a police state”. In explaining his statement, Crawford posited, “it is the police force that is being used by these political parties out of convenience. When they get into power, they use the police force to prosecute and persecute people”. The attorney, while speaking on the topic, made mention of his previous run in with the police. He stated that, “this entire case about me cursing up the police would have never went that far, had I not said, they could go tell the president, the vice president and all the commanders, it would have never gone that far and I got five charges for that”.
As Crawford continued, he used defected MP Charrandass Persaud as an example by saying that, “Charrandass Persaud will be charged”. He further went on to say, ‘I do not know why he would be charged but I am saying that he will be charged because that is the type of government we have and that is the type of political atmosphere that we have”. Crawford said that those are some of the things that are a major concern for his newly formed party.
Horatio Edmonson, another party member, expressed the parties readiness for the hard work ahead.
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