By Ramona Luthi
Top leaders of the Working People’s Alliance (WPA) –one of the smaller parties which make up the Coalition Administration- is of the view that they, as well as other parties, are being sidelined by the current APNU/AFC Government in their decision-making process.
This was the view expressed earlier today (Monday) by party leaders, days after it was announced that Dr Rupert Roopnaraine, an executive member of WPA, would be removed from his post as the Education Minister and reassigned to head a newly-established department of public service within the Ministry of the Presidency.
During an engagement with media operatives at Rodney House, Tacuma Ogunseye who was speaking on behalf of the party, today, said “the WPA believes, when we look at the way the relationship had unfolded in the Partnership with the APNU, the WPA thinks we have been sidelined. No question about that. We may argue about why and how and so but we feel that [with] the end result…we’ve been forced to come to that conclusion”.
Executive member of the WPA, Dr David Hinds also supported this view saying that even after winning the 2015 General Elections; the party was never consulted to ascertain their role within the Coalition Government.
“The WPA was not consulted after the Coalition won, there was no meeting between the WPA and the Coalition or the President in which it was said to us ‘look, we’re now in government, WPA is entitled to one minister or whatever the case, who is your nominee?’ we were not afforded that opportunity,” he posited while noting that had it been an option, Dr Roopnaraine would have been chosen.
Dr Hinds further explained that after Dr Roopnaraine was selected to be the Minister of Education, it was assumed that he was representing the WPA, however, this had never been formally relayed to them.
When asked why the WPA expected to be consulted about Dr Roopnaraine’s reassignment when they were not briefed from the inception of the Coalition Government coming into power, Hinds responded that the party “gave the Government the benefit of the doubt.”
In addition, Hinds disclosed that the proposal to disengage from the Government is predominant among members of the WPA at this point.
“There’s a range of opinion in the WPA about how we should treat with this Government. It ranges from those who feel we should disengage with the government immediately. In fact we have put off our members meeting over the last year because we are very confident that if we were to hold a member’s meeting that there would be a strong opinion about the members for us to disengage from the government,” Hinds said.
Furthermore, the WPA member said “we do not want to go to the point of disengage. We are firmly committed to making this government work…We feel that the present government has a unique opportunity to bring about some semblance of change in this country….What we want is to be meaningfully engaged. What we want is to play a meaningful role in shaping policy, and shaping the vision of the Government.”
Nevertheless, media operatives were told that the outcome of the meeting planned for July 22, 2017 with the President will have be very crucial in the party’s future involvements with the Coalition.
On June 13 –the anniversary of the assassination of political activist, Walter Rodney, which is considered a sacred day for the WPA- the government announced that Dr Roopnaraine will be removed from the post of Minister of Education and sent to head a department within the Ministry of the Presidency with responsibility for the public service.
To date, no clear and justifiable reason has been given for Dr Roopnaraine’s reassignment and many had speculated that it was because of his deteriorating health. However, the Former Education Minister denied those assumptions, while maintaining that he had been consulted two days prior to his ‘relocation’.
Minister within the Ministry of Education, Nicolette Henry has since been promoted to head the ministry.