Feb 28, 2021 News
By Kemol King
Kaieteur News – Member of Parliament and Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly, Lenox Shuman on Friday rebuked the rest of the parliamentary Opposition, A Partnership for National Unity +Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC), for the way it has treated with its 2020 election loss and the new administration. He urged the Opposition Coalition to do its job of holding the government accountable to its campaign promises.
“Maybe they could turn and focus their attention on the important things of holding the government accountable,” Shuman said, “and stop reflecting on their failed attempts to rig the elections…”
“They are the government and we are the opposition and as the opposition, if we do not want our slip to show, we cannot slip,” the MP said to his colleagues.
Shuman is the sole representative of a tripartite joinder in the National Assembly. He represents the Liberty and Justice Party (LJP), A New and United Guyana (ANUG), and The New Movement. The three parties had decided, just before the 2020 elections, to merge their votes and give them a better chance to secure seats. The move was unprecedented in Guyana’s history.
Though the joinder gained a single seat, it took five months after the March 2 Election Day for the correct results to be declared on August 2, 2020. Most of that time was spent by stakeholders, correcting an attempt by the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM)’s Region Four Returning Officer, Clairmont Mingo to present declarations for that district, which were based on fraudulent counts. The resolution had hinged on the execution of a national recount of votes at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre.
“It was in this very building,” Shuman told the National Assembly on Friday night, “that we – me and my colleagues attended not for one month – we guarded ballot boxes and then struggled through a tiring and exhaustive recount and legal proceedings that I should have a law degree now, to ensure that Guyana never goes back to the Burnham era rigging. Those are facts, Mr. Speaker. Facts!”
“My honourable friends may have had the so called good life through those times and that is good for them,” Shuman said of APNU+AFC. “But we suffered and that experience and memory cannot be downplayed nor taken away and I will fight to ensure that we never return to those days.”
“We, the LJP, got 2,957 votes Mr. Speaker. If you were to ask me, the majority of which is 1479 and we did not have to try to rig an election to get those. The people simply identified that the PNC failed and voted for us. And many others voted for our Colleagues in the [other political parties].”
Since the elections saga, the representatives of APNU+AFC have maintained unproven claims that the party won the elections. Since budget debates began, several APNU+AFC speakers have included those claims in their speeches.
“And of course the million dollar questions are: Did you see the SOPs and where are your SOPs?” Shuman asked, referring to the Statements of Poll the Coalition claimed prove it won the elections, but has refused to release to the general public.
“I also wish to acknowledge,” Shuman added, “the bold step by the Opposition Chief Whip, the Honourable Christopher Jones, that the major opposition represents 49% of the electorate. An acknowledgement while long overdue shows that there is scope for political maturity.”
Jones had been one of the main spokespersons for APNU+AFC during the execution of the national recount, and had played a key role in proliferating misinformation about the integrity of the 2020 electoral process. APNU+AFC had attempted to convince the public that the elections were fraudulent, as it became apparent that it had lost to the People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPP/C).
Since its removal from office, representatives of APNU+AFC have ramped up a campaign which seeks to convince the general public that the Irfaan Ali administration discriminates against Afro-Guyanese, a demographic which has overwhelmingly supported the Coalition, as well as its main constituent, the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR).
“In layman’s terms,” Shuman said, “to repair the damage, to stabilize the financial ground and to fortify for a better more progressive Guyana and the answer is not to pander to race. If you lack substance, lack relevance and lack the moral and ethical fortitude to say you lost the elections, don’t do yourself and our future generations the disservice by [resorting] to race baiting.”
Shuman reminded that voters chose the PPP/C on March 2, 2020.
“We on this side of the house now have an obligation to hold the government accountable,” he said. “To my colleagues on this side of the house, I implore you – we have to up our game… We must conduct ourselves with integrity if we are to ensure that the people are the primary beneficiaries of any budget.”
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