Guyana’s two main opposition parties have welcomed President Donald Ramotar’s announcement that general elections will be held May 11.
The opposition parties – A Partnership for National Unity, or APNU, and the Alliance for Change – said Wednesday they will meet this weekend to advance talks on forming an electoral coalition.
APNU leader David Granger said his party has already chosen a team of negotiators to formalize a plan aimed at the election of a government of national unity.
Last month, AFC leader Khemraj Ramjattan said his party was prepared to lead a pro-democracy alliance of progressive forces, including APNU, to remove the ruling People’s Progressive Party Civic from office.
“AFC is the most vibrant fighting force in Guyana and remains ever confident of bringing change on May 11. We re-affirm the refrain of our membership: We ready,” the party said in a statement Wednesday.
The AFC has since called on Guyana Elections Commission, known as GECOM, to urgently publish guidelines barring “the abuse of state resources” in the run-up to the balloting.
“President Ramotar has finally buckled to criticisms that his prorogation of parliament in the face of AFC’s no-confidence motion was reckless, and had placed our parliamentary democracy in danger. The prorogation has attracted wide condemnation in Guyana, and pressures from friendly states, with indications that sanctions could follow,” Patterson said.
When he announced the election, Ramotar, who prorogued parliament in November, said he had hoped to use the suspension of legislative activity to avoid further conflict and seek avenues of accommodation between his administration and the opposition.
“I had hoped that the period of prorogation would have allowed for extant tensions to ease and for all of the parliamentary parties to constructively engage the government. At all times I have acted in accordance with the constitution of Guyana,” he said.
“I also did it to enfranchise those persons, though no fault of their own, who could not get on the Voters Roll at the last election because of lack of source documents, mainly residents living in the hinterland,” the president added.
In announcing the date on Tuesday, Ramotar told the nation that GECOM assured him it was prepared for the ballot.
“As usual, I intend to invite international observers to be part of the elections process and I will expect the political parties, the security services and the people of Guyana to conduct themselves in a manner that would ensure continued peace and stability before, during and after the elections,” he said.
“We have a collective obligation to ensure the protection of the democratic gains we have made and for which we have endured so much as a nation to secure,” he said.