A People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) presidential candidate will be named before this year’s Local Government Elections even as party leader and General Secretary Bharrat Jagdeo warned potential nominees to be cautious in their public campaigning.
“I don’t see the party having any difficulty with anyone who says ‘I am interested’. They all know the process. I am interested, and I have publicly urged that if they publicly expressed that interest, that the expression of the interest is done in a manner that is not disparaging of any other person who has expressed an interest,” Jagdeo said yesterday when asked about nominees publicly canvassing support.
With former Parliamentarian Charles Ramson Jr publicly announcing that he wants to be the party’s Presidential Candidate and many social media users stating their support and lobbying for current executive Dr. Frank Anthony, Jagdeo was asked about the party’s posture on self-publicizing and canvassing support.
He said that at a recent Executive Committee meeting, the issue was discussed and a decision was taken to put out a statement on what the process would entail. “The party Ex-Co (Executive Committee) has agreed that we put a statement outlining the process. The congress appointed 35 to sit in the Central Executive of the party. They then elected another 15 to serve as the Executive of the party. Right now the procedure that we have used and will in all likelihood use again unless the Central Committee decides to change it…they will vote in a secret ballot on all of the persons whose names are before them on the ballot,” Jagdeo said.
“I said before there is nothing wrong with people saying ‘I am interested’. What is wrong with that to say ‘I am interested’? [Nothing] but I urge all the party members and all who are canvassing not to disparage anyone else. Because at the end of the day all of these people will rally around the person we choose and we move on…,” he added.
Jagdeo’s influence on the selection of the Presidential candidate for the 2020 polls is now under close scrutiny, party sources say.
He has already declared that he intends to be a part of the next PPP government, but sources within and close to the party believe that he is likely to also face resistance from both younger members who have their own support bases as well as the party’s old guard, with whom he has long had an uneasy relationship, including during his 12-year presidency.
Although Jagdeo as PPP General Secretary is currently the de facto party leader, his ineligibility to lead the party to the polls is being seen as an opening for younger members of the party who fancy their chances of running or being part of a ticket.
While he has personal favourites, the PPP/C General Secretary will not be lobbying publicly for any candidate but says that he wishes all of them well in their nominations and selection.
“There are lots of people that I like and very competent people too. I wish them all well,” he said as he assured that the selection process will be finished by the end of the year and the party will focus on its 2020 campaign strategies.
Former long-term executive of the PPP, Ralph Ramkarran has said that the rules for the selection of a PPP presidential candidate have outlived their usefulness and it is the members of the party who should be making the decision.
Weighing in on the contretemps that has arisen over PPP member Ramson declaring his intention to be the party’s next presidential candidate, Ramkarran advised that the rules be updated.
Ramkarran said: “The PPP has no special rules for the selection of a presidential candidate. It has decision-making rules under which the executive committee of 15 recommends and the central committee of 35 decides. The latter invariably follows the ‘recommendation’ of the former. These rules apply in the selection of presidential candidates. The rules are archaic and have long outlived their usefulness. In this era of liberal democracy, the public would like to see and hear the candidates before one is selected by the party, especially having regard to the powerful position the president holds under the constitution. And the selection process for all parties in Guyana, not only for presidential candidates but also for officials, should be determined by members”.
Ramkarran was a member of the PPP for nearly 50 years before resigning on June 30, 2012 after controversy over what he felt was the party’s soft line on corruption while it was in government.
The former two-term Speaker of the National Assembly said that supporters are becoming leery of candidates being handpicked with barely a nod to the application of democratic principles.
Noting the 2011 process where he had announced his candidacy, Ramkarran said “I had to make a public appeal for a secret ballot for the election of the candidate in 2011, which former presidents Bharrat Jagdeo and Donald Ramotar publicly opposed. The executive committee members were made to state their preferences openly. They unanimously supported Donald Ramotar. This time around it may not be so easy and both the executive committee and central committee might be forced into secret ballots”.
In 2011, Jagdeo’s faction of the party had objected to a secret ballot for the choice of the presidential candidate and this eventually saw Jagdeo’s candidate, Ramotar, emerging victorious in a battle that had initially included Ramkarran.
When the party lost the elections in 2015, Jagdeo said that the Central Committee decided that it would vote through a secret ballot process and he emerged as the person who would be General Secretary and take on the responsibilities of the party.