PNC REFORM leads peaceful march around city
March 29, 2001
Demonstrators yesterday pulled off a peaceful and incident-free
march through the streets of downtown Georgetown, unlike the last few
days' protests, which had been characterised by violence.
Taking no chances, storeowners in Regent Street slammed their doors
shut quickly as word spread through the shopping district.
The march occurred while the hearing into the application to stay
President Bharrat Jagdeo's swearing in, winded down at the High Court.
Led by PNC Chairman Robert Corbin, Reform Chairman Jerome Khan, and
PNC/R candidates Vincent Alexander and Dr Phillip Thomas, the march
kicked off at 1215 hrs from the Avenue of the Republic, outside the
Two large banners stating, 'March against disenfranchisement,
discrimination, police brutality and for equal opportunity' were
displayed prominently by the group. Another banner read 'GECOM tell us
why we could not vote'.
The march proceeded along Brickdam, Camp Street, North Road, Avenue
of the Republic, Main Street, Lamaha Street, Main Street and back to
the point of assembly at 1330 hrs.
An unemployed woman among the gathering said she was motivated to
join protesters since last Monday because she had worked at the Guyana
Elections Commission (GECOM) during the recent elections and was
disappointed with the way the electoral process was managed.
She explained that she assisted in the distribution of the national
identification cards and worked on March 19 at a polling station in
"People are frustrated. GECOM did not do a good job. After all
that hard work a lot of people were still disenfranchised," she
Claiming that a large number of positions filled at GECOM were done
on a "favour-for-friend" basis, she opined that that led to
the incompetence and the problems experienced.
The woman said she did not mind Jagdeo being the President but
insisted that the government must show that it was an administration
for all the people. "What has been happening in the past is that
persons of one particular ethnic background have been given more
opportunities to progress causing racial segregation," she
She lamented that she only had $140 in her pocket and did not know
what she would be eating today.
Vacancies were hardly being advertised, she said, and the
applications she sent out had all been met with a reply that there
were no job openings.
Another protestor, who was recovering from pellet shots in his arms,
told Stabroek News that he was willing to stand up for what he
believed in. He said that he was not out there because of a party, but
for the hundreds who were not given a chance to exercise their
democratic right. Describing disenfranchisement as a shame, the
23-year-old multi-skilled man said that for the last few days, he had
not worked and as such, was partly frustrated.
He stated that his struggle was against unemployment, racial
discrimination, lies and "politricks".
Following their march, the demonstrators waited in the sweltering
heat for some three and a half hours before PNC/R candidate Joseph
Hamilton, who filed the application in the High Court, emerged at
about 1600 hrs to update them.
He told them that the arguments had been concluded and Chief Justice
Desiree Bernard would have to write up her decision which would be
handed down on a date to be announced.
He asked them to stay focused and to await instructions from the
party. Hamilton pleaded with them to return to their homes and not to
become involved in acts of provocation.
In support of his call, quotations from the late Martin Luther King,
Jr, were distributed. Some of the printed word read "In the
process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of
wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by
drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred".
Some of the demonstrators began moving, but others stood around and
engaged police officers in conversation. Taking advantage of the
absence of the Riot Squad, crowd members on three occasions lit
firecrackers, which exploded sounding very much like gun shots, then
laughed at the reaction of the unarmed policemen.
The police removed the barricades allowing traffic along the busy
Stabroek Market square by 1500 hrs. Everyone dispersed then.