NGO, PPP hold candlelight vigil as President addresses Chinese event

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The Non-Governmental Organisation –the Association for Democracy and Human Rights Guyana –joined by supporters and members of the Opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP) on Monday evening held a candlelight vigil infront of the Arthur Chung Conference Centre. There, President David Granger was delivering his address at a reception for the 70th Anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China.

The protestors chanted “Illegal Government” and “Who must go? Granger!” as they were surrounded by a large number of police officers holding what is described as “a riot shield” to prevent them from getting closer to the venue.

Some of the police officers on duty

PPP Presidential Candidate Irfaan Ali told the media that his party saw a poster from the organisation announcing that it will be holding a candlelight vigil and decided to join.

“Persons come out with their candles, standing up for democracy…calling on the Government to name a date for elections now, standing up for the rule of law…for their fundamental rights…,” he said.

PPP Presidential Candidate, Irfaan Ali (Photo taken from Irfaan Ali’s Facebook page)

He also alluded to the fact that all entrances and exits to the location were closed.

The police cordoned off all intersections leading to the location –the Railway line and University of Guyana road on the eastern side of the Conference Centre, Sheriff Street and Railway line on the western side, the Rupert Craig Highway and Bel Air road and the street leading to Giftland –forcing even media practitioners to walk from those areas to cover the event at the Conference Centre.

Police Officers at one of the intersections leading to the Arthur Chung Conference Centre (Photo taken from Facebook user)

“These are peaceful Guyanese standing up in defence of democracy. This is not required, this level of aggression, but we will not give up,” he said.

Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo who was also on the protest line noted that the President is prepared to retain power at all cost.

“This President having said to the nation that all he is doing is waiting on GECOM (Guyana Elections Commission) to inform him about a date for election is still unprepared to call an early election,” Jagdeo told reporters.

Protestors infront of the Arthur Chung Conference Centre (Photo taken from Irfaan Ali’s Facebook page)

President David Granger last week received a letter from Chairman of GECOM Justice (ret’d) Claudette Singh on Thursday last informing that the Commission could be ready to hold General and Regional Elections by the end of February, 2020.

The President had said he was waiting on the Commission to declare its readiness to name a date for such elections but four days later, he has not done so.

“We want an early election called now by Granger, not any election date because I think that is what they want to hang onto and let the time drift again,” Jagdeo stated.

He added that the Government is of the belief that the PPP will be unable to sustain its protest action but “the protest will intensify…every single day which goes by where he does not call election.”

Protestors infront of the Arthur Chung Conference Centre (Photo taken from Irfaan Ali’s Facebook page)
Protestors infront of the Arthur Chung Conference Centre while the police block them from getting closer to the venue (Photo taken from Irfaan Ali’s Facebook page)

Monday’s protest action follows a major protest held in front of the Pegasus Hotel and which seeped into the Savannah Suite on Thursday last where the President was delivering a speech to the business community. Thereafter, the President has referred to the act as “hooliganism.”

Unlike last Thursday’s protest, the demonstrators were this time faced with a counter protest from approximately ten supporters of the A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) coalition Government.

The small group of persons who reside within the vicinity of the Conference Centre were heard telling the protestors to “Go home.” They were also chanting “Granger all the way.”

The international community including the European Union, the United Kingdom, United States of America and the Commonwealth have since issued statements calling for an early elections date. The American Chamber of Commerce Guyana, the Guyana Bar Association and the Private Sector Commission have also issued similar calls.

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