Phillips can’t match President Granger

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PNCR Executive Member, (ret’d) Rear Admiral Gary Best (Adrian Narine photo)

…says former army chief Gary Best

EVEN as former Army Chief, Brigadier Mark Phillips has been rumored to be the Peoples’ Progressive Party’s (PPPs) possible Prime Ministerial candidate in the coming elections, People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) Executive Member, (ret’d) Rear Admiral Gary Best, said that Phillips is a “no contest” when compared to the President.

On Friday, at a PNCR Press Conference, Best stated that Phillips had worked under him at Camp Ayanganna and that, under his leadership, he demanded and received integrity from former Army Chief. However, Best said that those were times past and with Phillips aligning himself with the PPP, he is unable to state whether the same integrity will likewise be demanded of him.

“If you’re asking me to give a personal view and not a party view on if the Brigadier is up against the Commander-in-Chief [President David Granger], I would say it’s no contest. It’s a no contest,” he said.

Best further explained that if one were to compare the score cards of the David Granger-led coalition government with its improvements in all areas, one would not see a “serious competition” between Phillips and the President – both retired army men.

Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo, on Thursday had said that even with the talk of Phillips as the party’s prime ministerial candidate, no decision has been made and there is process which must first be followed. He stated that the person who will be selected will be chosen from the Civic component of the party; will be nominated by members of the Central Executive Committee and this selection is expected to be made sometime in late November.

Jagdeo also said that when he met with the former military leader, he indicated that he would be a welcomed addition to the opposition party while Phillips also indicated his willingness join. “As an officer who worked with me and under me – because he worked under me – yes, I did find him to have integrity and good leadership, that’s a fact…I was able to demand that,” Best said.

Asked whether he believes Phillips can bring these similar traits to the PPP, Best said further, “That’s up to Mr. Phillips. Mr. Phillips is a gentleman and he will decide what he wants to do with all his qualities. What I would say, in no uncertain terms, is that when he worked with me he had to display those qualities; I demanded of it; I got those qualities out of him…what he does now is up to him.”

The PPP’s engagement with Phillips to occupy a leading role in the party is a U-turn taken by the party since the party has heavily criticised the governing APNU+AFC for appointing former military officials in key positions of the public sector. Phillips moved up the ranks to Chief of Command under the Donald Ramotar presidency. He retired in 2016.

Also, on the road towards elections, several new political parties have sprung up, all hoping to make a difference in what has been dubbed “the mother of all elections”.

One such has been the A New and United Guyana (ANUG) with Presidential Candidate, politician and lawyer, Ralph Ramkarran, and most recently, the Citizenship Initiative (CI), which plans to work towards a unified Guyana whereby all Guyanese are afforded their basic rights and needs.

Best told the media that the PNCR does not see these parties as challenges or believe that their formation causes “vote splitting”. He also indicated that newly-formed parties like CI have been built on platforms identical that that of the PNCR.

“When you look at what is the platform of the recent CI party, there is nothing in that platform that is not in the core principles of the PNCR. So, they haven’t invented anything new; they’ve looked at what the PNCR has done over the decades and just made it prime time and prime activities for themselves,” he said.

The Party Executive added, “The best will contend. We feel we have the best candidate, the best team and the best plan to develop Guyana over the next 10 to 20 years.”

Original Post

Small parties won’t split governing coalition’s votes, says PNCR’s Gary Best


Rhonda-Ann Lam addressing the launch of Citizenship Initiative political party at the Herdmanston Lodge.

Executive member of the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR), Retired Rear Admiral Gary Best is not worried that small political parties will dent the incumbent APNU+AFC coalition’s chances of winning next year’s general and administrative council elections.

His position came one day after the newest political party, Citizenship Initiative (CI), was launched with promises to involve ordinary Guyanese in coming up with a plan of action that will include campaign financing, constitutional reform, anti-corruption, non-discrimination, high-tech education, health, and infrastructure.

Referring specifically to CI, Best said that party merely latched on to a few PNCR core principles and instead made it “prime time and prime activities for themselves.” “They haven’t come with anything new. Absolutely nothing new came from CI if you look at it carefully.”

He said CI has “no track record” unlike the PNCR , a mass-based party with 62 years of political experience that helped build the nation state including major infrastructure. “Some of the emerging parties are small parties; might be middle class to upper class parties and we don’t believe that that would be a combat-divider. We don’t see them as a major threat,” he said.

Already, three other political parties – A New and United Guyana, Liberty and Justice Party, and Change Guyana – have been formed to contest the elections.

Against the background of APNU+AFC having won the 2015 general elections by less than 5,000 votes, Best does not believe that CI or any of the other small political parties will split the coalition’s votes. “Essentially, it is a set of young persons, who are interested in the development of Guyana; I must say that, but it’s no different at all from the PNCR. That’s why we don’t believe that it’s a combat divider, it’s a splitter of votes,” he said.

The governing coalition has 33 seats and the opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP) has 32 in the 65-seat National Assembly.

The ruling one-seat majority coalition APNU/AFC government had promised sweeping constitutional reforms on the campaign trail in 2015. Despite persistent questions, Best did not indicate any solid effort by the David Granger-led administration to reach out to the opposition to get constitutional reform off the ground.

In 2018, the coalition says it attracted almost US$500 million in foreign investment, compared to the PPP/C’s US$225 million in foreign investment while in office in 2014. Best says the record of the APNU/AFC will guarantee victory at the March 2, 2020 general and regional council elections.

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