Guyana’s upcoming national elections is gaining keen interest internationally. Some observer missions are already in place but there continues to be worry about the incidents of racially charged and violent prone language being used on the campaign trail.
The United States government has expressed “extreme concern” about the problem and the local embassy intends to meet again with the political parties to make known its concerns.
Chargé d’ Affaires at the Georgetown Embassy Bryan Hunt believes that the leaders of the political parties ought to take up leadership on the issue.
In an interview at the US Embassy in Georgetown on Thursday afternoon, Mr. Hunt said “we have a very serious problem that requires serious political leadership from both parties to address. There has been in the last week to 10 days, far too much discussion on violence and far too much discussion about inter-ethnic problems. There have been suggestions that if one side or the other wins the result will be violence and our supporters need to be prepared for it. Those type of statements have no place in an election campaign. It is responsible and it is dangerous.”
He said the politicians on the campaign trail need to understand that their words have impact on their supporters and the country. The Chargé said there must be more responsibility coming from all sides.
“We do not want to see a situation where verbal provocation ultimately ends up leading to inter ethnic violence”
The British government and the Organisation of American States have called on the local politicians to be careful with the language they use on the campaign trail.
Mr. Hunt said the United States supports the call that the political parties and all political leaders ought to make it clear to their supporters that there is no support for violence and ethnic problems.
The US Envoy also said there political parties should also make it clear to their supporters that they do not support any move to prevent other political parties from hosting campaign meetings. “We need to be very mindful of the need to discourage anyone from destroying anyone’s campaign literature. The allegations have been coming from both sides.”
He said the electorate should be informed more about the policies and issues by the candidates and the US is also supportive of a presidential debate. Mr. Hunt said while he has seen issues being discussed at specially organised forums, there is the need for the same to be done in communities across the country.
While both of the major political parties have been accused of using less than elegant language on the campaign trail, the governing Peoples Progressive Party has come under more widespread condemnation for the language being used by some of its speakers.
The party has been accused of fear mongering.
And both parties have accused each other’s supporters of removing banners and preventing each other’s candidates from campaigning in specific communities.
General and Regional Elections will take place on May 11.