Guyana's three main political parties staged contrasting rallies here on Saturday night in a bid to attract undecided voters ahead of today's regional and general elections.
The ruling People's Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) held its last major political activity on the west coast of Demerara, while the main opposition People's National Congress Reform - One Guyana (PNCR - 1G) moved its caravan to the Square of the Revolution in the heart of the capital, Georgetown.
Not to be outdone, the newly- formed Alliance for Change (AFC), an amalgamation of former PPP and PNC senior officials, met at a park, a stone's throw from the Office of the President.
Local and regional artistes created a carnival atmosphere, urging supporters to "brave rains, hot sun and ensure that you vote early on Monday."
10 political parties
The Guyana Elections Commission said that 10 political parties, including the PPP/C, which controlled the last Parliament under the allocation of seats through the proportional representation system, will contest the elections.
Political observers say small parties such as The United Force and Justice For All Party, which are not likely to make an impact on the presidential race, would be contented with gaining a seat in the National Assembly.
In an editorial yesterday, the privately-owned newspaper, Stabroek News, said that recent opinion polls point to the possibility of a hung Parliament after today's elections that could result in a "rare minority government."
"What is more, a hung Parliament could also see the head of state and the Government being forced out of office on a majority vote by members of the House," the paper said in the editorial.
At his last news conference on Friday, incumbent President and PPP/C leader, Bharrat Jagdeo, said he was prepared to bring in members of other political parties into a new PPP/C-led government, but that they must be prepared to follow the dictates of his party.
As he addressed supporters on Saturday, Jagdeo called for an outright victory saying, "When you vote, you are not just voting for us, you're voting for us because we have the development plan for the country. The choices are clear."
Jagdeo argued that a victory for the PPP/C would ensure a "better life for your children and generations to come."
"We need this victory because we have work to do. You can trust us, we have the (former president and PPP leader Cheddi) Jagan vision. It is the only vision for Guyana. We have the best plan for the people of this country," he said.
But Robert Corbin, the PNCR - 1G leader, said the rally was the final assault of 'the troops' on the road to victory today.
Corbin predicted that the opposition party, which is seeking to regain the government it lost in 1992, was satisfied that it had been able to put across its policies to the electorate in such a manner that "they have said to us, it is time to take this country back and move it forward.
"Our focus must be clear. There is only one objective before us and that is not just winning, but the future of our country and generations yet unborn," he said telling supporters that the PNCR - 1G had already put in place proper socio-economic plans "that would ensure the country grows."
Meanwhile, former Prime Minister of St. Lucia, Sir John Compton, will take up duties as the lead team member of the Carter Center observation mission at today's polls.
Speaking ahead of his departure to Guyana yesterday, Sir John said that the violence and racial tensions which have dogged past elections and life in Guyana in general continue to diminish the true value of the country.
"Guyana has so much potential, in every department," Sir John said. " ... but because of this racial divide and all the animosity, the country is not making anything close to the contribution that it can make.