Dear Editor,

IT IS international norm that anyone who aspires to hold High Office MUST be a person of integrity and good character. The reason for this minimum standard is self explanatory. Suffice it to say that someone holding High Office is in a position of significant power.

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Some political scientist may rightfully or wrongfully argue that there is an imbalance in this power in favour of the Government. This would be concerning to the populace if this elected representative abuses his or her power and contract with the electorate by going rogue.

Dictators, Tyrants and Despots painfully come to mind. It is for this reason that I would argue, and many will support me, that the elector should take the process of electing their choice of leader very serious. This should not be a process based on emotions or blind allegiance; rather it should be based on hard facts supported by irrefutable evidence. Failing this, the consequences of your actions could be felt for generations to come.

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Regional and General elections are due in under three months in Guyana. This is our chance to elect political leaders in some of the most important areas. To make themselves presentable and electable to the electorate, the respective political parties are gradually moving into campaign mode. Manifestos and promises are being championed on an almost daily basis. Each party jostling for position to present themselves as the best to govern an oil- producing country. Mr. Editor, I will pause here, for therein should lie the electorate concern. Oil is synonymous with money. Lots of money.

This election, labelled the Mother of all Elections, would result in leaders who will manage a multi-billion- dollar oil industry. The consequences of a poor choice will be damaging. Who can the electorate trust with this money? Who can the electorate trust not to build another Pradoville with public moneys? Who has the integrity to be trusted? Who has the good character? The character beyond reproach? Which party has the integrity to be trusted? Which party is beyond reproach or is not bribable? Would not conduct back-door deals to the detriment of the populace? Psychologists would argue, with strong scientific evidence, to inform their conclusions that the best predictor of someone’s future behaviour is their past behaviour. As a medical doctor and highly trained medical specialist, I have been trained to look at evidence. I’ve been trained to understand the hierarchy of medical evidence. I’ve been trained to apply such evidence, recognising their strengths and weaknesses.

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It is those skills I will apply today, guiding the electorate on who to be circumspect with when making their choice on March 2. I will repeat, past actions is a best predictor of future actions.

I will first examine PPP Presidential candidate, Irfaan Ali. This gentleman is facing, an unheard of for someone seeking High Office, 19 criminal charges which has been repeated ad nauseam for PPP but not often enough for the electorate. He is banned from entering Canada, again a first for someone seeking to hold High Office. He stated that he did his first degree at a university in West Demerara that does not exist. It is clear that he is lying. Academic fraud to add to his 19 criminal charges. In any other country, Irfaan Ali would have been excluded from running for High Office until his legal issues have been satisfactorily resolved. This does not apply to PPP.

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I support the view that a man is innocent until proven guilty, but this has to be balanced with the populace confidence in the Government to act in their best interest. Someone who has 19 criminal charges cannot work at a bank security, where he will be miles away from the moneys, then why should someone running for the most powerful position in an oil producing country be treated differently? My conclusion is that Irfaan Ali does not have the integrity to run a sweetie stand much less a country. In passing, I will also mention Dr. Ashni Singh and Winston Brassington, both of the PPP, are also facing criminal charges. I am not sure what role they may play in a PPP Government if they win the elections, hence I will not review them, but I have mentioned them to highlight the fact that there seems to be a concerning pattern developing in PPP with regards to their selected officials.

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The next individual under the doctor’s microscope is Alister Charlie, PPP MP for Region 9. This gentleman was recently charged after a protracted and detailed four- month investigation for sexual misconduct with a teenage boy. The details are quite sordid and concerning. This mirrors allegations made against another PPP member, Kwame McCoy, who had his American visa cancelled after the Americans were convinced that it was his voice that was caught on recording soliciting sex from an underage boy. Not only the Americans came to this conclusion, most Guyanese also share that view. Is Mr. Alister Charlie electable in our critical elections that is less than two months away? Absolutely no. Again, there appears to be a pattern developing with the PPP.

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Finally, the lawyer who shocked Guyana and the world with his deplorable conduct. Ryan Crawford of the FEDUP party is facing multiple criminal charges for verbally abusing a police officer, refusing to provide documents to said officer, driving under the influence of alcohol, driving without insurance, driving a vehicle which was not road worthy among other criminal charges. Two things are shocking here. This gentleman used his infamy to form a political party, which was aptly named FEDUP to mirror his frustration and disrespect of a law enforcement officer. Secondly, it is shocking that this gentleman is permitted to practise law, despite facing multiple criminal charges.

At a minimum, his registration should have been suspended until the criminal matters are satisfactorily concluded, and the Bar Association investigates his deplorable behaviour to determine if he has brought the legal profession into disrepute. What signal is the PPP-aligned Bar Association sending to the law-abiding public? Lawyers are above the law? In my opinion, this lawyer is not fit to be a legal clerk, much less a lawyer and holder of higher office. He is the type that will change the Constitution to give himself absolute power. Because of space, I will have to conclude my analysis here, but suffice to say they are many others in the PPP who are facing criminal charges, eg. Omar Shariff, former Permanent Secratary in the Office of the Presidency et al.

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So I have provided a synopsis of those running for Higher Office whose integrity is under question. What is noted is that PPP dominates in terms of members facing criminal charges. To me, this speaks volumes. It speaks of culture in the party, the integrity of those in the party and a flawed decision process in the party when selected representative.

In my opinion, the electorate will severely punish the PPP for this forcing time to completely revamp the party after its likely worse performance in the upcoming election in March. On the contrary, APNU-AFC is free of such a dark cloud hanging over its head. The leader is beyond reproach, and so are his ministers. That is reflected in the Transparency International corruption score falling over forty points in four years. This is a record fall in post-independent Guyana. Also, this Government has not developed a Pradoville to build mansions, using State monies. It is because of the squeaky-clean nature of the Government that the country as a whole has been seeing positive development.

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Public servants receiving record increases. Improvement in roads and infrastructure. Hospitals and health centres being renovated and built. Improvement in the health service. Hinterland areas getting basic amenities for the first time, and many more. The choice in the upcoming election is a straightforward one. Choose a party that lacks integrity or a party of the people, for the people and made themselves answerable to the people. That decision is yours on March 2. Choose wisely.

Regards,

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Dr. Mark Devonish

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