Ex-army chief, Mark Phillips, tipped as PPP’s PM candidate
While stopping short of saying that Phillips is the candidate, Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo, was loud in praise yesterday of the former head of the Guyana Defence Force (GDF).
This week, Phillips appeared alongside the party’s presidential candidate, Irfaan Ali, in a circulated video, discussing security.
For many, it appeared to be the curtain-raiser and confirmation that the party has endorsed Phillips for general elections scheduled for early March.
Early elections were brought on by a shocking no-confidence motion carried in December last year which rocked the country after court battles which reached to the Caribbean Court of Justice.
During a press conference at his Church Street office, Jagdeo was asked whether the Brigadier is being considered for the party’s PM candidate.
He confirmed reports that Phillips was welcomed to be on the list of candidates contending the March 2020 elections for the PPP, and vouched for his integrity.
“I believe he is a great person…I know of his skills in terms of finance and his security credentials, and I’ve heard a lot about his integrity,” Jagdeo said.
He revealed that he had met with Phillips and indicated that he would welcome him on to the team that will contest the election.
Jagdeo noted, however, that candidates have not been nominated yet for the party’s PM-hopeful post.
“Let me say, I’ve outlined, first of all, a process that we intend to follow in order to select the prime ministerial candidate. I’ve made it clear that that person will come from the civic component of our party. I met with Mark Phillips and I said to him that we would welcome him on our team that is going to contest the elections. And he would be a welcome addition to our team. I made it clear to him the process that we would follow. I don’t know if anyone of our members will nominate him.”
Jagdeo said that it’s very likely that his name could be nominated too because members of the Central Committee and the Members of Parliament or anyone could nominate a person.
“…and we will treat each name on its merit and then make a decision. I said we cannot promise anything but there is a space for you in the team and he said, ‘I have no expectation, I know the process and I want to be part of the team going forward’.”
Jagdeo, during the press conference yesterday, made it clear that the prime ministership is not the only thing that the party is looking for.
“Let me make it clear. We are not trading positions. We’re not going to do like what AFC and PNC (R) [are] doing now to say, ‘oh you hold on to this ministry and we hold on to this one, which one got a bigger budget, so we could hustle more, etc.’”
He said that the PPP will go into these elections making no commitments.
“We are working on a platform that is inclusive. We want progress for all Guyanese, regardless of their race, their religion, wherever they live, we want to make sure that our people are safe in their homes, good quality education, our oil resources work for everyone. We believe there are lots of people who have great skills within our ranks and who will be part of our team, through the civic, and many individuals out there who we’d have to tap for their skills in the new government because there’d be huge opportunities. Right now, we’re talking about thousands of young professionals trained to manage, to create a national core of managers for the oil and gas sector.”
According to Jagdeo, it is expected that nominations for the post will be in January, “…so we will address this issue towards the end of November.”
Brigadier Phillips was commissioned into the Guyana Defence Force as a Second Lieutenant in February 1982, after graduating from the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst in the United Kingdom He was also trained in Brazil and the United States, and was appointed the Chief of Staff of the Guyana Defence Force in September 2013, retiring in October 2016.