Bond Facebook comments on Disciplined Services voting:
…President Ramotar slams move to stir up confusion
By Michael Younge
Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) Chairman Dr Steve Surujbally on Saturday rubbished statements made by People’s National Congress Reform-led A Partnership for National Unity and Alliance for Change (APNU-AFC) coalition candidate, James Bond, which sought to paint a picture that he had privileged information about the manner in which the Joint Services cast their ballots and the outcome of the process.
Bond, known for controversy and misinformation, moved to his social media Facebook page to share information about the outcome of the joint services voting process around 19:55h on Saturday.
“The Disciplined Forces gave us 94 per cent of their votes; it’s up to us to take this landslide home. On May 11 every vote we lost to complacency in 2011 we are taking it back. Every new vote must go to APNU+AFC everyone who did not vote in 2011 must vote for APNU+AFC in 2015. We CAN DO IT. It’s crunch time!” Bond said in his post which created confusion across the country, especially amongst the Joint Services ranks themselves.
However, Bond, when rebuked about his comments from other Facebook users and supporters of the ruling party, maintained his position and even defended his post.
He went further, divulging information he appeared to have about the voting patterns of Joint Services ranks who cast their ballots at the Whim Police Station.
“An example of what occurred today at Whim Police Station…total number of voters 165… Number of votes cast 147… APNU+AFC 140…PPP/C 7…” he said.
In an invited comment, Dr Surujbally said that the matter would be dealt with after being looked at today. He said Bond could not speak about the ballots cast with any certainty, as he could not be privy to how people voted.
“He cannot make that statement without any definitiveness of accuracy because he does not know how the people have voted. The envelopes are going to be mixed with the votes on May 11 so you don’t know how they will be vote,” Surujbally said firmly.
The GECOM Chairman also reminded the public that “that is the reason why the system has been developed so you can’t count the vote of the Disciplined Services because they will be mixed with the votes on May 11”.
He reiterated his position that “we would take up the matter as early as tomorrow…I can’t preempt what the discussion will be”, when asked about what action could be taken against the young politician for his statements.
Up until press time, no other senior member of the coalition had either liked or commented on Bond’s Facebook post.
His statement comes days after the coalition signed a Code of Conduct which called on all candidates and politicians campaigning to refrain from making divisive and false statements on the campaign trail that could have far reaching implications in the country.
When contacted, Senior Executive of the coalition Amna Ally distanced herself and the grouping from the statement made by Bond.
“I wouldn’t be able to answer to that because if one of my members make such a claim, then that is his business,” she said.
“Mr James Bond is his own big man and if he made an assessment then that’s his problem,” she told this newspaper.
Ramotar calls for action
Meanwhile, President Donald Ramotar strongly condemned Bond’s comments describing it as an attempt to stir up problem and create confusion in society.
Ramotar, speaking with this newspaper during a telephone interview, called on all Guyanese to condemn the statements, saying they are indicative of a coalition bent on creating mischief in the country and doubt among the voting public about the integrity of the electoral safeguards that were in place for the Joint Services voting.
“I am calling on the Guyana Elections Commission to take stern action against him and look urgently at the statements he made which are aimed at creating confusion in our country and can in no way serve this country well.
“His statements are very calculated. These statements must be condemned strongly,” said President Ramotar.
Several ranks who voted on Saturday expressed their concerns over the statements made by Bond and their own personal security.
“If it is true and he know how people vote already and de ballot ain’t counted that means that me squaddie them could know too if I vote for de PPP. That’s serious and I do not think I feel safe. That’s wrong”, a solider attached to the Guyana Defense Force said when contacted late Saturday.
They too wanted a guarantee from the Guyana Elections Commission that the integrity of their ballots was secured and Bond reprimanded for his statements.
All four polling stations in Region Six (East Berbice-orentyne) opened their doors late as the Military and Police Officers cast ballots on Saturday.
Commander of B Division, Assistant Commissioner Brian Joseph was the first to cast his ballot at the New Amsterdam Town Hall where both soldiers and Police casted ballots ahead of the May 11 General and Regional Elections.
Joseph was out of the polling station at 06:25h, and 11 minutes later so was the second person; Senior Superintendant Terrence Paul, who is the Officer in Charge of Crime B Division, emerged from the polling station.
The process was considered slow at the New Amsterdam Town Hall where 288 Police Officers and 35 soldiers were expected to vote.
Polling also took place at the Prisons Sports Club in New Amsterdam where 76 Prison Officers were expected to cast their ballots.
Although opening late, the process was much faster. Persons there stated that the voting process took about three minutes to complete.
Ballots were also cast at the Whim Police Station on the Corentyne where a further 165 Police Officers were expected to vote, while at the Springlands Police Station 94 Police Officers and 11 Soldiers were expected to vote. Officers from that division also casted their ballots at the Fort Wellington Police Station in Region Five (Mahaica-Berbice), where some 170 Police Officers were listed to vote.
Meanwhile at the New Amsterdam Town Hall, one officer who claimed that he was listed to vote there said that when he went into the polling station he was told that his name was not on the list to vote.
Polling Officer for the Peoples National Congress Reform-led A Partnership for National Unity and Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) Coalition, Barbara Pilgrim, told this publication that the party was concerned that all of the polling stations in Region Six (East Berbice-Corentyne) were opened after 06:00h. She said that since they were opened late they should also close after the 18:00h scheduled close.
“At the New Amsterdam Town Hall, it is taking more that 12 minutes to cast a ballot. The system is too tedious. Persons are spending too much time in the line. The Ballot Officer has to do everything and then go and help you to dip your finger in the ink. He needs help. Only 18 people have voted after one and a half hours.” Pilgrim said.
She noted that the ballot boxes should have been at the polling stations at 05:00h but they never arrived until after 05:30h.
In an invited comment People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) representative Fizal Jaffarally said that the PPP/C was satisfied with the way the process was going, even though he acknowledged that polling stations were opened after the scheduled opening time. He however said that by 10:00h the process was moving smoothly at all polling stations.
Commander of ‘G’ Division Kevin Adonis, said that the joint services balloting in Region Two (Pomeroon-Supenaam) was conducted smoothly and mannerly. Adonis said that the five polling stations, namely Charity, Suddie, Anna Regina, Leguan and San Souci Police Stations were open as early as 06:00h.
Adonis further explained that 279 discipline service ranks are on the official list of electors for G Division. Out of 279, Adonis said, 250 voted giving a percentage of 90 per cent. Charity and Suddie voting were fully completed, while the other stations were still waiting for few officers to vote.
He noted ranks had no hiccups or any difficulties in exercising their franchise. All the stations were equipped with polling agents and party representatives.
Ranks who spoke with Guyana Times said that they were very happy to vote. They had their finger inked and spent the rest of their day executing their normal duties. Police officers whose names were on different list outside the region were given time off.
…deceiving voters of existence – Jagdeo
By Alexis Rodney
Executive Member of the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) and former President, Bharrat Jagdeo has warned Guyanese not to be deceived by the political ploy of the Alliance for Change (AFC) members who are allegedly carrying out campaign activities, as the political party is not in existence anymore.
Jagdeo said he has been informed that party members, including Prime Ministerial Candidate of the PNC-led A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance for Change (APNU/AFC) coalition Moses Nagamootoo, are going into villages, campaigning as a single entity named “AFC”. He said if this is indeed true, then the party is only seeking to deceive the electorate since there “is no more AFC”.
“A number of people have come up to me and ask me why the AFC continues to campaign as if it were a party again in their villages”. Jagdeo said the move is a deliberate strategy of the AFC because Nagamootoo “has promised to deliver sizeable votes”.
The Prime Ministerial Candidate is on record as promising that he will offer to deliver some 11 per cent of the overall votes to see the recently formed coalition to a successful win at the upcoming May 11 polls.
Critics had it that this 11 per cent was also decisive of a pact made between the two parties on February 14 earlier this year, where the acquiring of the AFC’s 12 seats in Parliament is dependent on its ability to produce the 11 per cent votes.
However, APNU’s General Secretary Joseph Harmon had told this publication, that the APNU/AFC’s pact was not premised on the latter being able to deliver 11 per cent of the votes at the upcoming election. “It is based on an agreement between the two parties where they sat down and negotiated over a long period of time, and that is how they arrived at that,” Harmon claimed.
Jagdeo told a media conference on Thursday that the AFC’s game plan is that APNU will campaign predominantly in its strong holds, in its traditional constituencies, while AFC will seek to repeat what it did in 2011, by seeking to take away some votes from the PPP/C in the party’s stronghold. “That is an electoral ploy”, he stated flatly.
The former President explained explicitly that the AFC is now “dead” at the moment for the electoral purposes of the upcoming elections.
“There is absolutely no AFC. They exist on paper only. That from nomination day, when a single list of candidates was presented to the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) and from that day onwards, the AFC we knew in the past ceased to exist”, he said
According to him, when the electorate cast their ballot in favor of the AFC, “what you are voting for effectively is to make Granger President of Guyana”.
He said under Guyana’s Constitution, the President has executive power. “He is Head of State and Head of Government. The Prime Minister is appointed by the President, and if on day two, Granger decides to fire Nagamootoo, he has absolutely no recourse”, Jagdeo said.
He further pointed out that even if the former PPP/C Executive wishes to take his 12 members of Parliament and walk out, because of a fallout between his party and APNU, it would be a waste of time, “because there will be no 12 AFC MPs. Even if they disagree, on issues and Nagamootoo were to vote against projects in Parliament from APNU, Nagamootoo can be recalled, because it is against the legislation to vote against its own party”.
Jagdeo said the AFC has “absolutely” no leverage, as it had in 2011. At that time the two Opposition parties were separate, and could have made deals with each other.
“Now they are subsumed. Granger will decide everything. They are baggage to APNU; they are peripheral to APNU’s main thrust. So when they come into the village they only come with a little yellow flag to fool people, they no longer exist”.
… slams Opposition for spreading lies
The People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) has slammed the PNC-led A Partnership for National Unity+Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) coalition for peddling misleading information about the Linden Bauxite Industry, by extensively outlining the efforts by its Administration towards the recovery of the once ailing industry.
According to the PPP/C via a press release, the Opposition appears to be “out of touch” with the Government’s function as the PPP/C played a pivotal role in reviving and saving the bauxite industry.
It must be noted that the industry was on the verge of a complete breakdown, putting the lives of all those who are dependent upon it for a livelihood in jeopardy.
In chronological order, in 2003 the Government had embarked on a venture to restructure the industry and its community with a published plan entitled “An Integrated Plan for Region 10 – Revitalising the Region.”
The plan set out to enable the industry to become internationally competitive, stimulate the expansion and diversification of the region’s economic base, upgrade the region’s infrastructure and enhance the region’s social and recreational services.
In keeping with the plan, the Government had heavily invested into the development and expansion of small businesses in the region; the training of entrepreneurs; enhancing utility services like electricity and water; invested in the development of housing, roads, river services and urban development. Additionally, other areas including health and education were greatly enhanced.
It is through these investments that the region developed tremendously, which in turn contributed towards the recovery of the bauxite industry.
In painting a more detailed picture of its diligent efforts in proving its commitment to preserving the bauxite industry, the Government provided an extensive report explaining their role in the industry’s viability.
The press release noted that the Linden bauxite industry was revitalised 10 years ago in December 2004, following the conclusion of the privatisation of Linmine to Omai Bauxite (now renamed Bosai).
It also noted that the Aroaima Mining Company (in the Berbice River) was scheduled to be closed at the end of 2000 following the Unions rejection of a merger with Bermine (Berbice Mining Enterprise Limited). However, the Government, in an effort to save jobs that would have clearly been affected by the collapse, took over the Aroaima Mining Company in November 2000 on the argument that it would operate this company on a cash neutral basis.
Then in 2002, Bermine was on the verge of collapse but again, in an effort to safeguard the livelihood of many, merged with the Aroaima Mining Company.
Further, the Government realised its limitation on its capacity to invest and therefore sought to find a strategic partner to develop the industry, through which the Bauxite Company of Guyana Incorporated (BCGI) was formed.
“In December 2004, investment arrangements and a management contract were executed with RUSAL which took effect in early 2005. The formal privatisation was concluded in March 2006.
Both Linden and Berbice bauxite, since the revitalisation of the industry, is celebrating 10 years plus.”
The PPP/C noted that, over the course of the last 10 years, meaningful changes have occurred as a result of their rigorous intervention.
As it relates to employment, Bosai currently employs approximately 650 persons. BCGI employs over 700 persons. With the recent commissioning of the Kurubuka mines, resulting in stable jobs for the BCGI, 500 local workers will secure jobs for a 15 year period.
Additionally, meaningful changes are evident in the millions of dollars invested in Guyana’s economy. BCGI and its sub-contractors have insvested in excess of US$150 million in the last decade, whereas Bosai invested over US$100 million.
Also, since the companies are no longer privatised, the production for both the industries in Berbice and Linden has increased immensely and the export volumes are notably higher.
Meanwhile, the Government acknowledged the challenges in the commodities market but nonetheless, remains sanguine in the industry’s viability.
“Government remains optimistic that the demand for primary alumina will pick up in the medium term and will create new opportunities and potential for Guyana’s bauxite industry,” the release read.
It noted that with continued expansion and improvements in the production levels and products of the existing companies, overall prosperity in the industry is expected to continue.
When one puts the past few years under review, it is quite noticeable that there has been some 500,000 metric tons increase in the production coming from Guyana. Also, considering the high demand for quality bauxite from Guyana, the Government predicts brighter days ahead for the industry.
The Government also announced that a new bauxite company, the First Bauxite Company’s Bonasika Mine, is expected to be commissioned in 2015, due to the demand for bauxite.
Additionally, there are other companies who have applied for Prospecting Licenses (PL) and are being processed by the regulatory agency of the mining sector.
Over the last 10 years, the Government has expended over G$25 billion on subsidising electricity costs to consumers in Region 10.
The statement noted that in Linden, the Government of Guyana continues to highly subsidise the cost of electricity despite Linmine being privatised over a decade providing in excess of G$22.7 billion in subsidies from 2005 to 2014 for electricity on both the east and west banks of Linden.
Following the privatisation of Aroaima Mining Company Inc. in 2006, the Government made operational a new electricity company in Kwakwani to manage the generation and distribution of electricity and has provided in excess of G$2.5 billion in subsidies from 2006 to 2014.
Newly appointed Guyana Amazon Warriors Head Coach, Carl Hooper, has given the Limacol Caribbean Premier League a high grade, ranking it as
the second most exciting and popular T20 competition behind the Pepsi Indian Premier League (Pepsi IPL). Hooper made the comment during an exclusive interview with this publication from his home in Australia.
During Limacol CPL 2015, Hooper will return to his homeland Guyana to work with the local franchise for the first time since retiring from the game and becoming a qualified coach.
Asked to give his overall impressions of the League, which started with a bang in 2013, the former West Indies captain was quick to point out the tremendous impact and success they tournament has been able to achieve in two short years.
“This thing is getting bigger man. I watched, I think on ESPN a few years ago and you know the atmosphere was fantastic and being involved last year I felt it can only get larger and grow from strength to strength this year,” Hooper said.
Hooper used his vast experience of playing and coaching cricket to give a comparative analysis of the Limacol CPL, as against the Pepsi IPL, the Big Bash in Australia and other leagues in Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.
Hooper believes the Limacol CPL will, in the not too distant future, rival the much celebrated Pepsi IPL and ultimately become the top T20 league in the world.
Hooper’s prior involvement with the CPL was part of the coaching set-up of the now defunct Antigua Hawksbills.
Based on what he observed during that stint, Hooper believes there is one critical area that can be improved, especially as it relates to the on-field exchanges.
“If there is one critique I have from last year…some of the decks we played on, I would like them a bit better. I think the wicket in St Lucia was perfect- the ball came on to the bat, but some of the decks, like the one in Antigua, was a bit slow and I just think we need to improve in that area,” Hooper reckoned.
The third edition of the Limacol CPL will take place from June 20 to July 26 with the Barbados Tridents putting their title on the line against last year’s runner-up Guyana Amazon Warriors, Jamaica Tallawahs, St Lucia Zouks, St Kitts Patriots and Trinidad and Tobago Red Steel.
Busta Soft Shoe tournament…
By Treiston Joseph
With one of the best crowds of the tournament in attendance, Sparta Boss displayed whey they are the favourites to win the tournament with a 4-2