A New and United Guyana (ANUG) made its official launch, yesterday at Moray House, with party leader, Ralph Ramkarran, declaring that the newly-formed grouping will “win the election”.
The party established a Steering Committee, constituted by businessmen, Kian Jabour and Beni Sankar; lawyers, Timothy Jonas and Ralph Ramkarran; political scientist, Henry Jeffrey; and the People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPP/C)’s former deputy Chairman in Linden, Akanni Blair.
The launch saw members of the committee seeking to capitalize on frustration with the current political climate, much of which they described as “failed promises and political loyalties.”
The party noted its disappointment with the present regime to implement its manifesto, specifically focusing on the coalition government’s promise to implement swift Constitutional Reform. ANUG called on the Guyanese people to help the party create a Constitutional system that will bring the country’s parties “to share executive power.”
Both the Peoples National Congress Reform (PNC/R) and the People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPP/C) were dubbed disappointments who have done great harm to Guyana for the past 50 years.
The party, the committee noted, is not uni-dimensional. Although it was noted that there are currently no women in its leadership, they explained that this is because women, when asked to join the party and lead, declined the offer. However, the party has committed to setting specific policies to ensure the party is kept diverse, for the purpose of facilitating inclusionary governance, including the setting of quotas for women’s involvement in government.
Jonas said that, so far, no money has come from external sources, that they have all funded the formation of the party out of their own pockets. He explained that though businessmen have indicated their willingness to donate, they prefer to keep away from the political limelight and stay anonymous. Jonas committed that when donations are accepted by outside sources, the details of such donations will be made publicly available on their social media pages, so that all donations could be accounted for. It was emphasized that the party will not allow financial interests to compromise the party’s mandate or their commitment to ensuring a better Guyana.
Jeffrey spoke extensively on what he sees as extremely ethnocentric politics, which he believes is one of the major issues holding Guyana back. He said “this chronic, [ethnic] voting is largely responsible for poverty,” and that Guyana is more like a collection of tribes, than a diverse collective. He warned that “If we don’t speak with a united voice, then the international community will not respect the country”.
Ramkaran said that ANUG will be what the Alliance for Change (AFC) convinced Guyana it would be. He noted that in the stages of the AFC’s formation, Khemraj Ramjattan had said that the AFC would become dead meat if it joined with the PNC/R. He stated that, since the Cummingsburg Accord, “they joined with the PNC… and they became dead meat.”
ANUG leadership criticised not just the AFC, but The United Force (TUF). These parties, ANUG notes, have become “weakened political appendages”. The Working People’s Alliance (WPA) was mentioned, for their criticism of both main parties as not worthy of support, but are noted to have “[fallen] by the wayside.”
The former Speaker of the House promised that ANUG will not join either of the major political parties to form a government.
The party leader said that he believes ANUG will win the election, and that that is its ultimate goal. He noted, however, that the two major political forces currently in play have major strongholds. Hence, he explained that, if the party doesn’t win the election, there is a “strong possibility that it will “get enough seats to hold a balance of power.”
Noting that most of the persons on the Steering Committee are in or near senescence, he stressed the importance of having a diverse party; noting that youth are welcome to join and that they will not just be given a voice, but allowed to lead.
The former PPP stalwart said that Guyana is currently politically unstable and that oil-related developments in 2020 will not cure that instability.
“We need to make the decision [to do better] before the oil starts to flow.”
With reference to the developing oil and gas industry, the party is of the opinion that lack of capacity in government departments has resulted in “an unacceptable level of delay and controversy in vital decision-making.”
It was also heavily stressed that the racially-charged political climate in Guyana is also compounded by an issue of class struggle. The speakers chastised the government for what they deemed failures with industries such as sugar, agriculture, mining and forestry. Unemployment, they stressed, has soared, and communities have imploded.
The party’s statement reads that “Immediate measures will be put in place to alleviate the immediate conditions of suffering communities until permanent solutions in the form of employment opportunities are developed”.
The party intends to seek immediate assistance, if they win the election, from organizations such as Transparency International and the United Nations, who have expertise in dealing with corruption prevention.
Specific mention was made to the issue of climate change that the planet currently faces, and the specific challenge faced by Guyana, where most of the country’s civilization is situated on the coastline, below sea level. The goal of the party is to develop renewable power supply for most of Guyana’s energy needs by 2025, to eliminate the country’s dependence on fossil fuels.
ANUG noted that the government has not taken the issue of climate change seriously since, following the discovery of oil and gas, “the government has dropped the Amaila project,” and is talking about using gas for its energy needs. ANUG has committed to meeting with stakeholders and Guyana’s international partners to ensure that the issue of dependence on fossil fuels does not get out of hand.
A statement by the party notes that Guyanese will be enfranchised to hold ANUG accountable for their promises, because they will make their manifesto legally enforceable. Therefore, any citizen may “go to the courts for the appropriate declarations that we have violated”. If the court rules against the party, ANUG will make a legal commitment to resign from Parliament.
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