As members of the Disciplined Forces gear to cast their ballots for the Local Government Elections (LGE) tomorrow, Vice President Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo today urged that they give due consideration to their choices and what it could mean for their respective communities.
Speaking to members of the media at Freedom House, Dr. Jagdeo emphasized the significance of the Disciplined Forces’ role in the electoral process. “Tomorrow, the Disciplined Forces will be voting. So, since this is the last press conference before that voting takes place, I want to urge members of our disciplined forces to think carefully before you vote,” Jagdeo stated.
He further encouraged them to reflect upon previous occurrences under the coalition administration, such as the discontinuation of the one-month tax-free bonus that was previously provided by the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) administration.
Jagdeo specifically referenced an incident during the LGE 2018 campaign when former Minister of Finance, Winston Jordan, accused the PPP of utilizing the annual one-month bonus salaries to influence the actions of the disciplined services against opponents of their administration. The Vice President highlighted that these accusations were unfounded while adding that reinstating the bonus upon assuming office was a testament to the PPP’s commitment to the well-being of the Disciplined Forces.
“We kept our promise to the Disciplined Forces of the country. Today, that one-month tax free bonus costs $1.3 billion dollars. That is what the Disciplined Forces get now that they would not have gotten had APNU been in power,” Dr. Jagdeo emphasized. Therefore, he urged those casting their votes in the upcoming election to support a political party that prioritizes the welfare of the Disciplined Forces and has remained steadfast in fulfilling its commitments.
Dr. Jagdeo also noted the irony of the opposition’s press conference held this morning, where no mention was made of the Disciplined Forces and the LGE. This oversight, he suggested, might imply a lack of concern, unawareness of the impending election, or simply an absence of pertinent issues to address.
Last week, the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) announced that the Disciplined Services would vote on June 2, 2023, 10 days before the general population participates in the Local Government Elections on June 12. This arrangement is in accordance with Sections 74A and 74I of the Local Authorities (Amendment) Act. The Disciplined Services encompass the Guyana Police Force (GPF), the Guyana Defence Force (GDF), the Guyana Fire Service, and the Guyana Prison Service.
GECOM explained in a notice that, “… whereas Section 74E requires the Elections Commission to appoint a day on which persons entitled to vote under that part may ballot; Now therefore the Elections Commission hereby gives notice that the day on which the persons entitled to vote under Sections 74A-74I may ballot shall be 2 June, 2023 from 6:00 hours to 18:00 hour”.
Historically, voting for the Disciplined Services has been held separately from the general population to ensure their availability in maintaining law and order during the broader voting process.