Leader of the Opposition, Aubrey Norton has indicated that while he represents all Guyanese, he cannot ignore the cries of Afro, Indo and Indigenous Guyanese, who he believes are being discriminated against because of their perceived political persuasion.
During a radio interview on Shabnam Radio in Canada, the Opposition Leader was questioned on race relations and discrimination in Guyana
Mr Norton said it is no secret that a large percentage of Afro-Guyanese face ethnic and political discrimination, adding that it is evident in the distribution of the country’s resources.
“Along the Soesdyke-Linden Highway the PPP has given predominantly and overwhelming, one ethnic group all the lands. Let’s say we forgive them for that. PPP/C said when they were in Opposition that anybody who got land after the No Confidence Moton, the land would either be taken away or they will face the Courts, the evidence is there that Indo Guyanese got, Afro-Guyanese got, you proceed to Court and you take only Afro Guyanese to Court. The Indo Guyanese were left with the same lands gotten under us, mind you, I believe they were entitled to it but what I disagree with, is the different strokes for different folks,” the Opposition Leader said.
During the Saturday radio show, the Opposition Leader also pointed to the allocation of contracts under the current government.
He said while some 284 contracts were awarded for the rehabilitation and construction of 300 roads in Region 6 – a district won by the ruling People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C), only 24 contracts were awarded for road projects in Region 10 – an opposition stronghold.
He also cited the case of the four opposition-led Neighbourhood Democratic Councils (NDCs) (NDC) in Region 4 that were deprived of a $4M grant which was offered to the other NDCs in the region.
Mr Norton said the situation is no different at the level of the Town Councils.
“Now Georgetown as a Municipality should be given their subvention, given their resources to manage Georgetown and the people who manage it be held accountable. Now Georgetown is won by the APNU+AFC, it has an Indo-Guyanese Mayor but they continue to deprive Georgetown of resources, they do the same thing with New Amsterdam, they do the same thing with Bartica, they do the same thing with Mahdia, all four that we would have won,” the Opposition Leader explained.
He said Indo-Guyanese, who are perceived to be supporters of the coalition are also facing political discrimination, and are starved of development and resource.
The Opposition Leader said it cannot be business as usual when Guyanese are being discriminated against by the Government because of their perceived political persuasion. He said for that and other reasons, he has taken a decision not to shake the hands of President Irfaan Ali.
“There is little or no transparency, there is little or no accountability and when it comes to equity its worse, and so, for us in the APNU+AFC and for Guyanese who care, there is little or no sense going through the facade or the formality of shaking hands at diplomatic receptions and in the public domain, when the critical issues that affect the Guyanese people are not being dealt with,” the Opposition Leader explained.
Mr Norton said issues regarding the inequitable distribution of the country’s resources, and the high cost of living must be addressed by the State.
“I know the reality. The reality is a small group of PPP elites, friends and family are benefiting but the mass of Guyanese, regardless of ethnicity are not benefiting, and for me, if one is talking about an oil and gas sector, that sector will only be useful to us, if it is improving the lives of all Guyanese, and to the extent that it tends to put the resources in the hands of a few at the expense of the majority of people, at all levels of the society, then I do not believe we should be boasting about an oil and gas sector,” the Opposition Leader explained.
The Opposition Leader will also be visiting the US for a series of engagements before returning to Guyana this week.