The PPPC is ahead of its competitors as Guyana prepares for elections within the next year. While the ruling APNU+AFC seems more concerned with using state power to harass the General Secretary of the PPPC, Bharrat Jagdeo, the PPPC has sprung a new limb in its campaign to regain office.
Harassment of political opponents is also a dumb strategy by the ruling coalition. All this is doing is crystallizing greater support behind the PPPC and its General Secretary.
While the government is playing dirty, the PPPC is practising smart politics. The PPPC has hired a US public relations and lobbying firm, Mercury Public Affairs, to undertake its work. While the exact nature of the work which the firm will do for the PPPC is not known, given the price tag of US$170,000, it can only be for lobbying efforts, and not for campaign advice. That sum is insignificant compared to the resources, which are at the disposal of the PPP.
Mercury Public Affairs is therefore most likely helping the PPPC to lobby US lawmakers in Washington to be firm on APNU+AFC in terms of complying with the Constitution and for the holding of free and fair elections.
The PPPC General Secretary when asked about the nature of the work that the firm is contracted to do said, “All the PPP wants is free and fair elections in Guyana. That’s what we’re lobbying for. It’s a shame that we have to, in the 21st century, go to Washington to lobby for free and fair elections just because of this government’s transgression—refusal to accept a no-confidence vote.”
Some people presumed that the PPPC was hiring a firm to run its election campaign. The PPPC apparently is not. It must have been aware of the experience of the AFC when it hired foreign experts who ran some strange poll numbers predicting that the AFC would win the 2011 elections. Foreign PR firms do not understand local politics and would be a liability if they were ever hired to do so.
In any event, the PPPC hardly needs any help in running a campaign. It is seasoned in that area. The PPPC is a well-oiled machinery. It knows how to win elections. It narrowly lost the last time, but you can bet it will not make the same mistakes twice.
The PPPC is mobilizing international pressure against the government to ensure that the next elections will not be rigged and at the same time it is rebuilding its relations with the United States after that ill-thought strategy involving a ‘feral blast’ against a former United States Ambassador.
The PPPC is looking for results. It has hired a firm with a proven track record of getting things done. Mercury Public Affairs had successfully lobbied US lawmakers to have RUSAL removed from US sanctions, a decision which saved the local bauxite industry. It is also being retained by a Chinese rail car maker, which is hoping to supply the New York Metropolitan Transport Authority with rail cars.
The PPPC decision to hire a public relations firm shows that it understands how decision-making is done in the US capital. Letters, petitions and picketing exercises are not going to have any appreciable success in the US system. What is needed are trained publicists and lobbyists who can achieve with one meeting – given the contacts, connections and influence – what through politician action will take ten years.
The PPPC’s decision also shows that it appreciates the limitations of the Diaspora. Overseas Guyanese like to delude themselves into believing that they are influential and important to local political causes. But they are only fooling themselves. They are no longer a force to be reckoned with. Their financial contributions can hardly pay for the cost of them being addressed by local political leaders.
The PPPC has not opted to utilize them in lobbying Washington. Instead, they have chosen a private firm to get the job done. And there is no reason why the firm should not get the job. Those who therefore feel that if APNU+AFC decides to rig the next elections they will get away with it, should think again. The US has shown a preference for targeting individuals associated with regimes they consider as rogue.
Any attempt by any force to rig the next elections in Guyana is likely to be greeted with travel bans and seizure of personal assets of those involved. The PPPC is making sure that the United States will take stern action against any such act.
And while the PPPC is busying itself internationally, the APNU+AFC Coalition, which won the elections in 2015 by less than 5,000 votes is rallying the converted.
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