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Opposition parties to take to the streets this weekend

--say elections this year unlikely

Opposition political parties are of the view that elections cannot be held by the September 3, 2006 due date because the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) has still not yet commenced several deliverables, including the much called for verification process.

This view is shared by the main opposition People's National Congress Reform (PNCR), Working People's Alliance (WPA), National Front Alliance (NFA), and the United Republican Party (URP), which all shared the platform at a mass rally held at Square of the Revolution just over a week ago.

It was announced at the rally that supporters of the opposition must start mobilizing to embark on street protests to get their voices heard.

The opposition has organised more rallies for Linden this weekend followed by one at New Amsterdam on June 2.

The Guyana Action Party, which was not represented at the first rally, has also concluded that elections cannot be held by September 3.

Civil society advocate, Peter Ramsaroop, who sat with the likes of party leaders Robert Corbin of the PNCR, Dr. Rupert Roopnarine of the WPA, Keith Scott of the NFA, and Max Mohamed of the URP at the rally, told Kaieteur News yesterday that it would be a major surprise if elections are held this year.

He said based on the advice of experts, GECOM has to complete at least 20 deliverables, including training of staff to pull off the elections. Most of the areas have not yet been addressed.

The main issue for the opposition remains that of the verification of the 2001 Official List of Electors.

Ramsaroop said his participation on the platform is based on a “one-Guyana” approach, in which the players are taking up the issues affecting a large percent of the population which are being ignored by the government.

“Our intention is to work with a wide cross-section of the Guyanese people to bring the issues to the fore and have them addressed,” he said.

Citing what he described as an example of the little importance the government pays to national issues, Ramsaroop alluded to the launching of Guyana 's 40 th Independence anniversary yesterday at the Umana Yana.

He said the launching was poorly attended by Government Ministers. The Minister of Culture, Youth and Sport, who had organised the event, failed to show up.

“This shows that the government does not care about the country. They do not put any emphasis on bringing Guyana together.”

Ramsaroop stated that more talk of division was spewed by President Bharrat Jagdeo on Sunday when the Head of State made a statement that the government knew who gunned down Minister Satyadeow Sawh, his siblings and security guard.

This would only incite the people given the fact that the President referred to Buxton when he made the statement, he said.

According to Ramsaroop, he has contacted the Ethnic Relations Commission on the issue and has requested that it be addressed.

The civil society advocate acceded that he is not a proponent of radical street protests but he acknowledged that it is one way that would ensure that the people's voices are heard.

His philosophy is that when there are sides in a major ethnic divide and with all feeling that they are being discriminated against, then the voices must be heard where it is most impacting.

“We have to step out now and speak of the issues which affect us. We must not only do so at the ballot box.”

Ramsaroop pointed out that the street protests would not necessarily start off with marches.

He explained that demonstrations could be held at strategic locations like the GECOM headquarters.

Ramsaroop declared that the government has pushed the opposition to take this form of action because of the administration's refusal to listen to compromise.

He gave as examples the position taken by the government on house-to-house verification and the extension of Parliament to facilitate proper preparations for the elections.

He stated that the opposition is left with the sole option to take to the streets.

Kaieteur News