Opposition will “lose the next elections” – Jagdeo

The content originally appeared on: INews Guyana
Vice President Dr Bharrat Jagdeo

…says no one takes Aubrey Norton seriously

The ruling People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) is not worried about President Dr Irfaan Ali’s re-election at the upcoming 2025 General and Regional Elections, especially if his challenger is Opposition Leader Aubrey Norton.

This was the position of General Secretary of the PPP, Bharrat Jagdeo, who said at the Party’s weekly press conference on Thursday that no one takes Norton seriously. Jagdeo was at the time responding to a question whether the Party was concerned about Norton’s presidential candidacy posing a challenge to President Ali’s re-election.

However, Jagdeo does not believe that Norton nor any other candidate within the People’s National Congress (PNC)-led A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) Opposition would mount a formidable challenge.

Opposition Leader Aubrey Norton

“They’re gonna lose the next elections and they know that. Internally, they know this… Their leaders say ‘we know we’re gonna lose this’ …I don’t want to lend credence to Norton… He’s wasting my time.

“Because Norton doesn’t have, as I said before, a solid background on [policy] issues… He doesn’t get held by the media to account. It’s either because nobody takes him seriously or they just giving him a free pass,” the PPP General Secretary stated.

According to Jagdeo, even party members within the PNC-led APNU – with Norton being the leader of both groupings – are not confident in his ability to be victorious at next year’s polls.

In fact, dismissing Norton’s claims that the PPP was paying people to spread rumours that he was corrupt, Jagdeo argued that this was not only delusional but the PPP did not have to put in this much work when this was already the view of the majority of PNC’s membership.

The PPP General Secretary went on to note that even if Norton put forward a sound policy plan, it would not be accepted by the Guyanese electorate who are still reeling from the last APNU/AFC coalition Government. He noted that even under the presidency of David Granger – who was much more credible than Norton – there were a lot of unfulfilled promises.

“The 2015 period, they promised to fix everything. People would have the ‘good life’; they would fix the corruption; the Government would be efficient. But we lost welfare, economy started tanking and they became the most corrupt group ever in this country. So, who would believe Norton when he says anything about policy, etc?” stated Jagdeo – the Vice President of the current PPP/C Government.

Moreover, Jagdeo further outlined that apart from the main political Opposition, there was no other party that would mount a challenge for the PPP/C at the 2025 polls. On this note, he stressed that the two major parties – the PPP/C and the PNC-led APNU/AFC – have to ensure they run clean campaigns.

“These third parties can’t make a difference to the people of this country. The big political parties have start changing two things, and this is what I’m talking about with the PNC, you gotta stop dividing our people along racial lines – everything is race – and stop steal elections,” he posited.

At the 2020 elections, there were blatant attempts to rig the results in favour of the then incumbent APNU/AFC regime. These efforts saw Guyana falling into a five-month political deadlock that was eventually resolved with steadfast pressure from local stakeholders and the international community.

This resulted in the PPP/C winning the presidency with a commanding 233,336 votes, a remarkable lead of 15,416 over its political rival, the APNU/AFC.

Meanwhile, as the country gets ready to head into another electoral cycle, preparations have already started in some quarters.

Only on Wednesday, the Ethnic Relations Commission (ERC) urged political parties to engage the body ahead of next year’s polls.

During a press conference, ERC Chairman Sheik Moeen-ul-Hack informed media operatives that the Commission has been successful in engaging members of two major political parties, the ruling PPP/C and the AFC, which has since separated from the APNU but remains in the coalition as the parliamentary Opposition.

However, ERC’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Gomin Camacho disclosed that efforts to engage other parties, including the leading Opposition party, the PNC-led APNU, have proven futile.

ERC’s invitation of engagement is part of its efforts to garner the support of political leaders to assist it in the execution of its mandate, which is to promote harmony and good relations among all Guyanese.

On this point, ERC Commissioner Norris Witter underscored the importance of preventing the reoccurrence of ethnic tension leading up to and after the holding of the 2025 General and Regional Elections.

“The racial/ethnic tension in Guyana is primarily based between these two ethnic groups (Afro-Guyanese and Indo-Guyanese) either fall within the PPP or PNC, therefore, you cannot make any serious progress in terms of addressing the ethnic tensions unless you can get these two major parties on the table,” Witter said.

The ERC hosted a Code of Conduct signing for parties contesting the Local Government Elections (LGE) 2023. The Code of Conduct aimed to ensure that parties agreed to promote an election period that was free from hate speech, incitement, violence, discrimination, and provocation along racial lines.

The Code of Conduct addressed the conduct of politicians in all public forums, including political rallies. This is paramount since the Commission itself was birthed from electoral tension.