TCI ‘fairly confident’ going into polls

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The three-month-old political party The Citizenship Initiative (TCI) is hopeful of emerging as a strong third “voice of the people” by gaining the upper arm in Parliament so that they can push through a number of legislative changes.

During its official elections campaign launch on Sunday afternoon at the South View Tavern in South Ruimveldt Gardens, Georgetown, TCI member Ruel Johnson expressed confidence that the party will gain some footing in the National Assembly at the March 2 general and regional elections.

“I think we have, quite frankly, distinguished ourselves. Of the small parties, we’ve had less access to resources than most but clearly we have some traction so we’re fairly confident.

“When it is that the race is done, hopefully, there will be a significant plurality in Parliament but we’re confident that we will be at the head of that plurality of new parties,” said Johnson, who is also the Government’s Cultural Policy Advisor.

TCI member Ruel Johnson

If they gain a seat or seats in the National Assembly, TCI wants to immediately focus on constitutional reform, shared governance, decriminalising marijuana and hemp; repealing the criminal defamation section under the new Cyber Crimes legislation and make access to Wi-Fi a basic human right that is aligned to the right of free education.

The party is also considering the “complete abandonment” of the National Grade Six Assessment at primary schools.

“When we eliminate that Grade Six exams, we create a system that ensures that those children… as they move up the ladder, I don’t have fourth formers that I have to teach to read,” explained Rondha-Ann Lam, TCI’s Presidential Candidate.

A section of the gathering at the elections campaign launch

A teacher herself, Lam has a plan in place for education reform.

“We have a system that has traditionally favoured certain schools…and what you have, if a child gets a school in a certain area, there is a stigma attached.”

Lam made reference to Barbados which is also moving in the direction of abolishing the Grade Six exams.

“TCI is not going to be that political party that literally lies to you and makes all these insane promises that we know even if we’re elected to Government we couldn’t possibly pull off given the state of our country.

“We’re under no delusions that we’re going to wake up and be the massive power. We’re hunting for multiple seats in Parliament to table a number of bills…,” the Presidential Candidate explained.

Decision not to join lists with other small parties

Meanwhile, TCI noted that it is comfortable with its decision not to join its lists with the other small parties such as The Liberty and Justice Party (LJP), A New and United Guyana (ANUG) and The New Movement (TNM).

Johnson said TCI was approached but decided not to join forces because there were “issues” with the “construct” of the proposal.

“The construct that was proposed, we had certain issues with it and how it would function, the constitutionality of it, the issue of enforcement for e.g., of any possible agreement and the concept of what we call equity in terms of decision making and we didn’t feel it was strongly thought out and we didn’t want to be caught up in an agreement that we signed off on in which the particulars, the nuts and bolts, were created after the fact,” Johnson said.

The LJP, ANUG and TNM joined their lists so that the combined votes they secure at the March 2 polls could be counted towards regional and Parliamentary seats.

The move is considered historic as this would be the only known time in the history of Guyanese politics that parties have decided to go this route.

The provision to join two or more lists is catered for in the country’s elections laws, namely Section 22 of the Representation of the Peoples Act.

Joining their lists does not mean that the parties are contesting the elections as a bloc; they are still going to the elections as separate parties.

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