LGE 2023: PPP/C looking to take reins in PNC-led Opposition strongholds – GS Jagdeo
– says APNU having difficulty getting support for polls
– PPP finalising candidate list to contest all constituencies
The People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) is gearing up to contest the upcoming Local Government Elections (LGE) and is aiming to take control of those constituencies that are traditionally considered to be PNCR-led Opposition strongholds.
PPP/C General Secretary, Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo, made this declaration during a press conference on Thursday at Freedom House, where he gave an update on his party’s readiness for the upcoming LGE slated for June 12, 2023.
According to Jagdeo, his party is looking to penetrate the traditional PNC strongholds across the country.
“We’re contesting everywhere. We’re fighting a hard campaign in every single one of these areas… but there are some areas where we have never won these areas and we are hoping, politically, that people would give us an opportunity in these areas to prove that we can put together a stronger development plan, and implement it, than [the opposition has] ever done,” he posited.
The PPP/C is currently eyeing major municipalities around the country including Georgetown in Region Four (Demerara-Mahaica), New Amsterdam in Region Six (East Berbice-Corentyne), and Linden in Region 10 (Upper Demerara-Berbice) – all of which are led by PNC Opposition
If given the opportunity to run the City Council in Georgetown, the General Secretary has reassured citizens that they can look forward to enhanced transparency and accountability in the management of the capital’s city resources as well as its development under the PPP/C.
“Greater accountability and stewardship of the funds of the City Council [in Georgetown]. Once there is greater accountability, an increased flow of money [will go] to the City Council itself because right now there is no accountability there. You give them money for one thing, they spend it for something else and often, it’s something that doesn’t bring benefits to the people of this country or the city.
So, greater accountability and more focus on development. The group in the City Hall, they are not focused on development. It’s an attitude, it’s a mindset… you have to have to focus on development and they don’t have that mindset – the PNC doesn’t have it,” he contended.
Nevertheless, the PPP/C General Secretary further stated that his party has a “proud” track record in delivering to the electorate and this is evident in the governing party’s fulfillment of most of its 2020 General and Regional Election Manifesto promises.
Now, the party is focused on preparing for the upcoming local government polls. He indicated that the PPP/C intends to contest all the Local Authority Areas (LAAs) across the country. This, he noted, will give the party an advantage especially since the PNC-led A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) is still uncertain about its participation in the elections.
At his weekly press conference on Thursday, Opposition Leader Aubrey Norton said the PNCR is looking at all the factors surrounding the local government elections and has even identified some candidates but this does not mean that the party will be participating in the polls.
This comes on the heels of the PNC-led APNU’s parliamentary coalition partner, the Alliance For Change (AFC) having already announced that it would not be participating in the LGE.
But according to Jagdeo, this duality by the PNCR is because the party is having a hard time on the ground gathering candidates to contest the upcoming elections.
“They’ve been busy going around the country trying to seek candidates, put together lists to contest these elections and they have not received a very favourable response from many parts of the country. And that difficulty in putting together a credible campaign to contest in all the local government bodies was reflected today in the comments by Mr Norton… So, the ambiguity is not because of strategic thinking. It’s because of the difficulties they’re faced with on the ground in putting together lists of candidates to contest in all of the areas,” Jagdeo pointed out.
PPP LGE candidates
On the other hand, in preparation for the LGE, the PPP/C’s Central Executive will be meeting soon to finalise its list of candidates to contest the local government polls. According to Jagdeo, the PPP/C has already started assessing candidates across the country.
“The Executive of the party will meet in the next couple of weeks to look at all the candidates. We’re in consultation now across the country and settling [on the candidates] in many areas. I can say there are a number of people, who are formerly APNU members and councillors, who have expressed a desire to be part of our list and our campaign,” he posited.
This increase in young and opposition supporters is welcomed by the PPP, Jagdeo stated.
However, even as the party is yet to finalise its list of candidates, a poster was circulated announcing that prominent businessman, Nazar Mohamed of Mohamed’s Enterprise, will be contesting as PPP/C’s candidate for the Eccles/Ramsburg constituency on the East Bank of Demerara.
According to the General Secretary, Mohamed’s name was nominated for that area and while the party has consented to this nomination, it has to go before the Central Executive to be formally approved along with the names of candidates for all the other LAAs.
Recently, there have also been reports that the owner of a popular supermarket in Georgetown, Mattai’s, is also a PPP/C candidate for the upcoming local government polls.
Jagdeo explained that the party had adopted a model of having a list of candidates that reflects 50 per cent PPP members and 50 per cent civic or civil society representatives.
“That has always been the model PPP-Civic. These are people who don’t have membership cards but they want to contribute to the community [and] they want to make a difference so they’re welcome as part of the PPP/C at the national level too,” the GS stated.
Addressing concerns of some of these ‘civic’ candidates posing a conflict of interest given the nature of their businesses such as construction, Jagdeo pointed out that the PPP/C has implemented a new stipulation at the Neighbourhood Democratic Council (NDC) and Municipal levels that councillors cannot bid for contracts within their serving constituency.
“If you intend to tender in that area… where you’re a councilor, do not put your name on the list because, for the first time now, we are prohibiting that from happening. We’ve had a few instances in the past where we’ve found that some of the councillors were tendering for contracts in their own NDCs or municipalities,” Jagdeo noted.
The PPP/C is expected to formally launch its LGE 2023 campaign next month before April 17 Nomination’s Day.
At the last LGE held in November 2018, the then PPP/C Opposition had secured 52 of the 80 Local Authority Areas. This had followed the holding of the LGE in 2016, during which the PPP/C also claimed the majority of the LAAs.