Hoyte says priority is to keep PNC/R intact

Guyana Chronicle
April 9, 2001

LEADER of the main Opposition People's National Congress Reform (PNC/R), Mr Desmond Hoyte has said the top priority now is for his party to remain intact.

Speakers at a mass rally Saturday night after the PNC/R General Council had met for the first time since the March 19 elections, said it will be changing the tempo of its treatment of the governing People's Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) from one of 'slow fire' to `more fire'.

Mr Hoyte referred to President Bharrat Jagdeo's invitation for a one-on-one meeting but declared that he was not interested in "secret talk".

He did not rule out a meeting but told his supporters, "This is a time for cold, logical thinking."

"We are not going to negotiate with them unless we sit down and talk with them about these matters that concern us."

"We are not interested in secret talk. We are interested in open negotiation, and the people must know what we are talking about. So comrades, as we set about to begin negotiating with the PPP, we have to ensure militancy, and cannot relax at this time", he said.

"But we are not talking about dialogue," he said, adding that dialogue connotes some sort of social engagement.

"We are talking about negotiation, and we shall be negotiating with the PPP from a position of strength", he said.

Appealing to supporters to stay with the party, Hoyte said that when he goes to negotiate, it is necessary for a powerful force to be behind him.

"You can't leave him out there alone", he appealed.

He said that based on the response to the march from the PNC/R Congress Place headquarters after the General Council meeting to the square and the thousands at the rally, he was confident of the force behind him.

Congratulating particularly the young people for turning out in large numbers, he said, "The future belongs to you, and the work that the party will have to do from now on is to secure that future."

He urged the gathering: "Comrades, it is absolutely important that we keep our party intact; that we remain mobilised; that we remain motivated; because the only way we are going to achieve anything; the only way we're going to wring from this PPP regime and get any redress for grievances will be by a show of solidarity."

He said party solidarity was the only platform from which "we will achieve anything meaningful."

"Therefore our first priority is to keep this party intact; keep united," he stated from the podium amid loud cheers from the thousands of supporters, mainly young people.

Some of the concerns Hoyte cited were jobs for young people; social infrastructure; villages that do not have infrastructure, roads, water, electricity, telephones; police brutality; reforming the Public Service and the teaching and nursing professions to cater for better conditions of service.

He also referred to accountability, alleged victimisation of public servants, and the appointment of Dr. Roger Luncheon as Head of the Presidential Secretariat.

The PNC/R leader also said thousands of the party's supporters were disenfranchised at the elections.

Hoyte declared: "We demand an explanation...We must be told what went wrong. We know that from the nature of those errors that they could not be incidental."

He charged that from the nature of these errors, it was clear that it had to be a mischievous person in the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) who brought about all the confusion to disenfranchise people.

Noting that persons were saying that the party should concede defeat, he asked, "how can you concede defeat after all this has happened in the elections office?"

"We shall continue to dig, and dig, until we get the proper explanation."

And noting that the elections results from GECOM showed that the PNC/R secured 42 per cent of the votes, he said that for the time being the party will accept that since 42 per cent is a "powerful vote" in any electorate.

"But we now have to use that power to secure redress for the grievances that were experienced by our supporters. We have to get this PPP regime to understand that they cannot govern this country if about half its population is angry, disgruntled, resentful and feel marginalised. They need to understand that," he declared.

Referring to the recent disturbances along the East Coast Demerara in villages including Buxton, Golden Grove, Plaisance and Belladrum, Hoyte argued that the people of those villages were rebelling against the system.

During unrest long the East Coast after the elections results were declared, protestors blocked roads, burnt tyres and damaged bridges.

He said the party clearly understood their anguish, contending the issue was not merely about disenfranchisement and elections results, but the fundamental issues affecting their daily lives.

Hoyte also said that he was constantly being bombarded with all kinds of proposals from people outside and within making a proposal to him about power sharing.

"But power sharing means anything to many people. It does not mean the same thing to everybody who uses it," he said.

He said it is now left for him to make sense of what they are referring to, and decide on the best methodology to pursue.

"But whatever we do comrades, the end results must be clear, and we must understand this - the People's National Congress must end up in a position where it has the ability to influence government's decisions, policies and programmes."

"Whether you call it power sharing or whatever you like - the bottom line is that the People's National Congress must be part of the decision to address these matters that are of deep concern to us."

Hoyte also blasted the Stabroek News and Chronicle newspapers for attempting to make the PNC/R look bad, adding: "Comrades, don't look to organs like Stabroek News and so on for any kind of support. Look to them as destabilisers to put us in a bad light."

Mr Hoyte declared: "Comrades, this is time for sustained action. We have started a protest which is going to escalate until the People's Progressive Party understands that we mean business."

He said that what started at Buxton, Golden Grove, Plaisance and Victoria was a social revolution.

"We have got to stand up for justice, because the real revolution has started now...," he declared.