By Lincoln DePradine
The leader of the parliamentary opposition in Guyana is confident that the People’s Progressive Party/Civic government of President Irfaan Ali will be defeated at the country’s next national election.
Aubrey C. Norton claims that government “failures’’, such as the “alienation’’ of some Guyanese through lack of equity, will work in favour of the current opposition in an election.
“What has happened in the last two years, there has been a deterioration in governance. There is no transparency; there is no accountability; and, worst yet, there is no equity,’’ Norton told The Caribbean Camera.
Norton, an ex-foreign service officer of Guyana, was elected last December as leader of the People’s National Congress–Reform (PNC-R), replacing former President David Granger who did not contest the party post.
In the Guyana parliament, Norton also leads A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC), which is an opposition coalition.
In 2020, after months of delay following elections, the People’s Progressive Party was officially declared winners of the poll and Ali succeeded Granger as president.
Norton, who was in Toronto on the weekend, said the PNC-R has been rebuilding and readying itself for the next election.
“I think we have done a good bit of work in that regard. We’re continuing to work across the country,’’ said Norton.
The Toronto visit, he disclosed, was arranged by one of the Canadian chapters of the PNC-R and it’s an opportunity to “meet and greet’’ supporters, and also to brief all Guyanese “on what is happening in Guyana’’.
Norton credited the PPP government for using some of the revenue generated from the discovery and drilling of oil to offer grants of cash to citizens. However, he described the grant distribution as being carried out in an “ad-hoc’’ manner.
“It has become a mechanism for increased corruption,’’ he charged. “So, even though one can consider it a kind of positive that the government is giving cash grants, even in that, there are negatives. It is being distributed by PPP people, rather than the state. So, it’s politically biased and that generates other problems.’’
In addition, Norton accused the government of being “very divisive’’, saying “there is a grave concern in Guyana that, as a society, the level of racism has increased. That has resulted in the alienation of a lot of the African-Guyanese and Indians and Amerindians who support the coalition’’.
The shortcomings of the government have placed the PNC-R and the APNU+AFC in an “excellent’’ position to win the next election, said Norton.
“We have an excellent opportunity to regain power,’’ he emphasized. “The government’s failure to govern in the interest of all Guyanese has been one of the key perpetuators of the ethnic divisiveness in the Guyanese society.’’