PPP likely to reclaim power in next elections – State Dept advisor
The People’s Progressive Party (PPP) is likely to return to power in the next general and regional elections. So said a respected American academic, in a paper exploring the dynamics of Guyana’s political system.
The paper in question is Journals of America, Third Edition, and was written by Dr Evan Ellis, PhD, a research professor and author at the Institute of Strategic Studies of the US Army War College who specialises in China and its engagements with non-Western nations.
According to Dr Ellis, the PPP has been citing a number of plans for new infrastructural development, projects that are likely to be funded from oil revenues. He also noted that Chinese companies are likely to participate in some of these projects.
“With the likely return of the PPP to power in 2019 elections, its leadership is talking about a new generation of infrastructure and other projects likely to be built by the Chinese and funded by the revenues from oil, including the resurrection of the Amaila Falls Hydroelectric Project and an interconnection to the Brazilian power grid,” Dr Ellis said in his journal.
Ellis noted that sharp divisions have arisen leading up to elections, with the PPP heavily critical of the Government’s delay to call elections. He also warned that whatever the outcome, a large section of Guyanese will be dissatisfied, raising the prospect of violence as they lose faith in traditional democratic measures.
“The PPP views the Government’s efforts to delay elections through a combination of legal challenges and obstacles generated by what they view as a purely partisan electoral commission (GECOM) as an attempt to short-circuit the nation’s democratic process and the will of the majority, as they contend the PNC did repeatedly in the past.”
“Moreover, as the conflict escalates, neighbouring Venezuela could take advantage of internal disorder to pursue its territorial claim, as many Guyanese perceive it tried to do in December 2018 with the attempted intercept of the Ramform Tethys.”
He also delved into the area of internal security, noting that the Guyana Police Force (GPF) is undermined by internal corruption and woefully underfunded. Dr Ellis described the minimum pay of a police officer, some $60,000 a month, as “half that of the next worst-paid police department in the Caribbean.”
“As a consequence, the GPF does not attract the most capable members of society to be part of its organisation, and Police personnel are readily tempted to engage in bribe-taking just to survive. GPF members are also frequently poorly equipped, sometimes delaying their responses to serious crimes because of the non-availability of Police cars. A number of GDF facilities are literally falling down from disrepair.”
Dr Ellis acknowledged that Guyana benefits from European Union (EU) funds that go towards improving Police training, equipment, and infrastructure. He cited the Citizen Security Strengthening Programme (CSSP).
“Through CSSP, approximately 20 per cent of Guyanese Police Stations have been refurbished, although the conditions of those that remain is, in some cases, appalling,” Dr Ellis noted in his journal.
Ellis then went on to speak about the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU), which he described as controversial. He noted that while SOCU was originally formed to conduct investigations of persons flagged by the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), the Unit has been criticised for focusing its investigations almost entirely on senior PPP-affiliated functionaries of the previous Government. He noted that to date, this focus has produced no criminal convictions.
“Those more sympathetic to SOCU would say the focus was driven by the involvement of the members of that Government in corruption, and that the reason for the lack of convictions has been the inability or unwillingness of the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) chambers to take cases forward.”
“As with the Guyana Defence Force (GDF), the GPF has interactions with the Chinese. Most prominently in November 2017, when the PRC donated US$2.6 million in vehicles and other equipment including 56 pick-up trucks, 44 motorcycles, 35 all-terrain vehicles, and 5 buses, helping the GPF to compensate for its severe shortage of vehicles. Nonetheless, several of these cars have been lost to accidents since their arrival, including one just a day after being donated,” Dr Ellis said.