Ex-officers line up behind Guyana elections coalition

Bert Wilkinson | 4/9/2015, 12:47 p.m.

Special to the AmNews

When the Caribbean trade bloc headquarter nation of Guyana votes for a new government May 11, the elections will most likely be a straight race between a multiracial opposition coalition group and the Indo-dominated governing People’s Progressive Party, but the presence of highly trained ex-military officers in the opposing camp, many of them based in the U.S., is becoming a source of serious concern to authorities.

Officials appear to be so concerned about the fact that the Partnership for National Unity-Alliance for Change coalition is led by retired army commander Brig. Gen David Granger that it has put out official statements airing its concerns about Granger and the fact that hundreds of veterans, trained all over the globe, have rallied behind Granger, with the aim of ensuring the PPP is kicked out in the next five weeks amidst credible allegations about widespread corruption and continuous support for the underworld.

Cabinet Secretary Roger Luncheon wrote an open letter to local media in the past week suggesting that the overt support of the ex-military officers for Granger and the coalition could negatively impact the general discipline and political mentality of serving officers and other ranks, calling the entire scenario a dangerous and uncomfortable development.

This concern is despite the fact that Granger, soon to turn 70, contested the 2011 general election as head of the APNU, separate and apart from the AFC, and lost by a mere 26,000 votes.

No real noise was made of the fact that he was an ex-general, but it is true this time that hundreds of officers and other retired ranks have either taken time off from work in North America to join forces with those at home to build the coalition and assemble a large team of people to monitor polling stations and even protect government buildings after the anticipated victory in the elections.

Luncheon said in his letter that authorities have been observing the “unprecedented increase in the presence of actively involved retired military personnel” holding leadership and other positions in the coalition as this has not been the case in the past. Retired soldiers have usually remained inactive politically.

Luncheon said that “a political machinery run by the military is no longer fiction. Granger made it happen. Guyanese can only think of the implications of the military political alliance succeeding in the coming elections.”

However, he reminded active soldiers and officers that they remained barred from involvement in politics, noting that “the impact on the serving military is as expected” as he complained about the “increasing evidence of the militarization of the opposition’s leadership.”

The newspaper letter comes as ex-soldiers move to strengthen the association of veterans to serve as opposition monitors and polling places on Election Day, presumably to guard against vote rigging and to watch over the interest of the opposition alliance.

Meanwhile, a few of those same ex-officers have begun to reply to Luncheon and government, contending that many late American presidents and high officials such as Gen. Colin Powell, have served in civilian positions after their military careers ended.