All leave for Guyana's six-thousand strong police force and army was cancelled on Monday, when 380,000 people went to the polls to elect a new Government.
All leave for Guyana's six-thousand strong police force and army was cancelled on Monday, when 380,000 people went to the polls to elect a new Government. The strict security precautions followed seven weeks of bitter, at times violent, campaigning, which ended with a toll of one dead and more than a dozen injured.
Prime Minister Forbes Burnham claimed the three opposition parties planned to create violence and confusion at the polls. Countering, the opposition groups charged the Government with attempting to rig the election.
Mr. Burnham's People's National Congress had 30 of the 53 seats in the old Parliament, and in the election was striving for another six to give it an absolute, two-thirds majority. From the outset, the opposition groups -- the People's Progressive Party (led by former Premier, Dr. Cheddi Jagan), the Guyana Liberator party and the People's Democratic Movement -- have concentrated on alleged electoral irregularities. They've laid charges off organised violence and corruption at the Government's door.
The Government recently drafted a GBP 440 million (1150 million dollar) development programme as its manifesto to the electorate. The five-year plan has been largely ignored by the opposition parties, in favour of the corruption charges. Observers say that despite the issues and the four parties facing the electorate, the poll is essentially a continuation of the 17 year battle for political supremacy between Mr. Burnham and Dr. Jagan.
SYNOPSIS: For the past seven weeks, Cuyana has endured a bitter -- at times violent -- general election campaign.
Ore person was killed and more than 12 were injured in the campaign, which ended on Monday when 380,000 people voted.
Because of the violence -- and threats of more -- all police and army leave was cancelled. The ruling People's National Congress had 30 of the 53 seats in the old Parliament. It sought six more for an absolute majority.
The main opposition group -- the People's Progressive Party -- is led by Dr. Cheddi Jagan, a long-time political rival of Prime Minister Forbes Burnham. Its attack concentrated on alleged Government corruption. This attack has been supported by two other groups -- the People's Democratic Movement and Guyana Liberator Party.
The opposition alleged the Government planned to rig the ballot in order to stay in power. It demanded - and got -- an assurance ballot boxes would be supervised when transported to central tally rooms.
For its part, the Government announced a GBP 440 million development programme at the centre piece of its manifesto to the electorate... a manifesto largely ignored by the opposition party.
The Government also claimed leadership in the movement for a united Caribbean. However, observers see the election essentially as a test of strength between Dr. Jagan and Mr. Burnham -- a continuation of their 17-year battle.