GDF Chief of Staff assures soldiers of right to vote freely.
Written by Denis Scott Chabrol
Monday, 14 November 2011 17:57
The Chief of Staff of the Guyana Defence Force (GDF), Commodore Gary Best on Monday again assured soldiers that they can cast their ballots freely.
Demerara Waves Online News (www.demwaves.com ) was told that Best gave the reassurance voluntarily and not on the basis of any concerns that might have been raised by any officer or other rank.
Best’s position came one day after Executive Member of the governing Peoples Progressive Party (PPP), Bharrat Jagdeo openly appealed to the military to vote for his party during an address at a campaign rally at Stewartville, West Coast Demerara.
Demwaves.com was told that the persons in the military hierarchy have noted that this is the first time that a Guyanese leader and Commander-in-Chief has openly called on the military to vote for his party. “This is an unprecedented statement,” an officer told demwaves.com.
Predominantly of African Guyanese membership; the army, police, fire and prison services have largely voted for the main opposition Peoples National Congress Reform (PNCR).
That party is now the single largest and influential member of the coalition A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) whose presidential candidate is former GDF Brigadier, David Granger.
The ruling party aligned Guyana Times newspaper quoted Jagdeo as referring to Granger and saying “I want to ask the soldiers tonight to think about this, that he is only friendly to the army now because he believes that people will vote for him simply because he was there,” Jagdeo noted, urging the armed forces to “examine him on his record”.
“How can you support a man that does not believe in the constitution of Guyana, does not believe in the defence act, and that Guyana alone is more important than a party?” the head of state asked again. “You can’t support him and I ask you tonight not to support him,” he appealed.
Granger has consistently rejected allegations that he played a role in the removal of ballot boxes from Corentyne during the 1973 general election and the killing of two PPP activists who that party called the Ballot Box Martyrs.
Best has previously told the military in the GDF’s newsletter that they are being allowed to cast their ballots without influence or interference.
Members of the Joint Services would vote on November 21, one week ahead of the civilian population, in what is expected to be a keenly contested poll.
Major issues are corruption, drug trafficking, national security, discrimination, bad governance, economic performance, infrastructural development, job-creation and investments in health, education and housing.