Political activist accuses Ramjattan of displaying double standards

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Alliance For Change (AFC) Leader Khemraj Ramjattan has decided to accept a third term at the helm of his party, if so nominated by delegates at his party’s upcoming convention.

This move, however, will inevitably lead to criticism of the AFC’s previous stance on issues like a possible third term for former President Bharrat Jagdeo.

This is the view of political activist Dr David Hinds, who noted the contradiction in the two stances. Ramjattan has been leader of the AFC since 2012. According to Article 19 (1) of the AFC’s constitution, no leader would be allowed to serve more than two consecutive terms in the same office, in the interest of “a broader activism in leadership positions by the membership”.

“The one big problem for the AFC leaders is that they would be open to criticism that they opposed a third term for Jagdeo, while they went against their own constitution in wanting third terms for themselves. There is some inconsistency there,” Dr Hinds stated.

He notes that there is the letter of the constitution and then there is the spirit of the constitution and sometimes the two are at odds. Dr Hinds observed that in the case of the AFC constitution, the spirit seems to be against more than two terms, while the letter is vague.

The academic said that if the AFC membership did indeed want its leaders to run again, it would be advisable to amend their constitution beforehand.

In 2015, it was ruled by former acting Chief Justice Ian Chang that former President Jagdeo could run for a third term. This ruling is expected to be challenged in February by the Government, through its Solicitor General.

The AFC has been staunchly against a third term for Jagdeo and had made its sentiments known, even while the former Head of State was in his final term as President.

When questioned on Monday about the Article 19 (1) provision, Ramjattan, who is the Public Security Minister, had stated that the provision was not exclusionary.

Since Ramjattan was elected as AFC Leader in 2012, his stint has lasted for four years, or the equivalent of two terms. According to Article 7 of the party’s constitution, “A national convention shall be held every two years at a place and time decided by the National Executive Committee.”

It is here that elections for the positions of the party Leader, Chairman, Vice Chairman, General Secretary and 12 National Executive Members will be held.

Although Ramjattan will be looking to be re-elected to serve in the leadership capacity, he is expected to face stiff competition for the post at the upcoming elections, which will be held at the party’s National Executive Conference (NEC) later this month.

In addition to Ramjattan, Public Infrastructure Minister David Patterson and Public Telecommunications Minister Cathy Hughes are seen as contenders for the post.

The AFC’s NEC will be hosted on January 28 at the Vreed-en-Hoop Secondary School in Region Three (Essequibo Islands-West Demerara) – the party’s first NEC outside of Region Four (Demerara-Mahaica). (Guyana Times)

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