President David Granger will face the brunt of protests from the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) until he names a date for General and Regional Elections. This is according to the party’s General Secretary, Bharrat Jagdeo.
Yesterday, September 19, the day after Jagdeo and the PPP faction declared Government illegal, saw the first of those protest actions occurring outside of the Pegasus Hotel, Kingston, where the President was expected to deliver an address at a luncheon of the Guyana Manufacturing and Services Association (GMSA).
The protest of at least 300 PPP supporters lasted over two hours. In the beginning of the struggle, they marched in the pouring rain.
As the President was meant to enter the compound, a riot squad was sent to form a barricade to make way for his entourage to pass through. But the protestors resisted the advances of the police. One man even planted himself flatly on the middle of the road to prevent the movement of the police barricade.
Minutes after, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Karen Cummings, attempted to enter the compound with a Government vehicle. The crowd, determined to deter her, refused to make way, forcing her driver to turn around and leave. They chased the vehicle out, and the driver, frustrated, even charged a protestor, who narrowly jumped out of the way.
PPP members and loyalists on the frontlines of the protest action included Jagdeo; PPP Presidential Candidate, Irfaan Ali; Attorney-at-Law, Charles Ramson; Members of Parliament, Juan Edghill and Nigel Dharamlall and many more. When they advanced on the Pegasus compound, the gates had already been locked. Persons started to remove sections of the fence, but police kept them at bay.
At a critical moment, a vehicle arrived at the venue, and everyone thought it was the President’s entourage. But as the crowd advanced on those, it allowed the President to somehow be snuck into the building “through the back door” – as Jagdeo put it. He said that the vehicle must have been a decoy.
A few of the protestors were not fooled. They followed the President to the Savannah Suite, where he was scheduled to deliver an address, shouting at him to set a date for elections and resign. Police refused to allow them in to the suite.
For about an hour, the GMSA gathering dined peacefully at the luncheon. Unbeknownst to them, a few PPP stalwarts, led by Edghill, had sat at a table as peaceful onlookers.
When the time came for the President to address them, he described the protest action as “hooliganism”.
“What hooliganism?” Edghill shouted back, and then the quiet dissolved into chaos.
The group started shouting, while revealing posters, some of which read “APNU/AFC Government Expired” and “Usurpers not welcome”. The Presidential Guard surrounded the protestors so that they couldn’t advance to the podium, and the President attempted to continue his speech. But the shouting had increased and some of the gathering had begun to respond in frustration.
President Granger took a stand at the stage, and waited minutes for the protestors to be removed from the Suite. Then he continued his speech.
Outside, the protest went on until he finished. As the crowd started to thin, the Opposition Leader held a press conference at his Church Street office.
There, he said that the President and his Government are illegally occupying office, and so the PPP will stage protests against him, everywhere he goes.
“You gotta play the long game with them… The long game is they’re being cornered… The crunch is coming. They are running out of excuses.”
“So, we will keep this up until he names the date [for elections].” Jagdeo said.
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