On Thursday 24th March 2011, a UNDP Mission paid a courtesy call on the PNCR whose delegation included, Leader of the People’s National Congress Reform and Leader of the Opposition, Mr. Robert Corbin, M.P., PNCR Presidential Candidate, Mr. David Granger, Party Chairman, Mr. Bishwaishwar “Cammie” Ramsaroop, Party General Secretary, Mr. Oscar Clarke, and Public Relations Officer, Ms. Malika Ramsey.

The visiting UNDP Mission was in Guyana to undertake a pre-election assessment of the Technical assistance needs of GECOM in its preparations for the National and Regional Elections which are constitutionally due later this year. In this context, the mission expressed interest in Guyana’s current situation and political climate from the perspective of various stakeholders as this country prepares for General Elections. Major concerns raised by the PNCR included, the remaining obstacles facing citizens in being registered, particularly obtaining source documents; and, the radio monopoly and political control of the State media by the PPP as they refuse to establish a National Broadcasting Authority.

The PNCR noted that sufficient effort is not being made by the PPP/C Administration to facilitate citizens obtaining basic source documents so that they can get their names on the Voter’s List. The PNCR had previously recommended that a special Unit be established at the General Registrar’s Office to fast track the procedures and better facilitate persons in need of assistance to obtain their source documents. Despite the Registrar’s denial that these difficulties are continually being experienced by citizens, the problem remains and has also been acknowledged by the Elections Commission. PNCR’s General Secretary confirmed that he had sent a list containing the names of several persons experiencing such problems to the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Registrar’s Office to support the validity of the PNCR’s assertions.

The PNCR also highlighted the misuse of the State Media for PPP propaganda as a dangerous development that would affect the smooth conduct of the forthcoming elections. The lone radio station and the NCN television station were the only ones with complete National Coverage, hence their politically biased reporting and broadcasts were being deliberately used to mislead and deceive the public. The Opposition Leader further pointed to Government’s continued refusal to permit private owners to extend and strengthen their Television signals while at the same time doing the opposite with the NCN radio and Television. Equally aggravating was the refusal to establish the National Broadcasting Authority in accordance with guidelines already agreed, that would have been licensing private radio stations. He opined that the recalcitrance of the PPP/C Administration and the political misuse of the state media could force the setting up of private broadcasting entities without licenses; a situation that could eventually create a crisis.

The UNDP Mission included, Programme Manager for the local UNDP Office, Trevor Benn; Senior Programme Advisor for the LAC Oversight and Support Centre, Regional Bureau for Latin America and the Caribbean, Carla Khammar; Electoral/Political Affairs Officer, Electoral Assistance Division Department of Political Affairs, Eiko Lkegaya; and, Electoral Advisor on Democratic Governance group, Bureau of Development Policy, Linda Maguire.

People’s National Congress Reform

Congress Place, Sophia

Georgetown, Guyana

Friday 25th March 2011