By Fareeza Haniff
[www.inewsguyana.com] – A rift has materialized within the executive of Guyana’s Opposition – the People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPP/C) – over its decision not to attend the first sitting of the 11th Parliament, which convenes today, Wednesday, June 10.
While some Party members are adamant that the PPP/C should represent its 202,694 voters in Parliament and take up its 32 seats, the leadership has decided against it on the grounds that the elections were allegedly rigged and that the APNU+AFC is a “de facto” government.
The first PPP member to officially speak out against the Party’s decision is Dr Vindya Persaud, who confirmed with iNews that an email she sent to the executive committee of the PPP and published in the Stabroek News, clearly states her position.
“It is an email that I sent internally to the Party and those are my views,” Dr Persaud said.
In the email, Dr Persaud wrote that she is against the planned protest today by the Party, pointing out that similar activities have gained minimal support from the public and its support base throughout the country.
According to the email, “I would suggest this was due to the party’s failure to present to the public concrete evidence or convincing information in support of its claim that there was significant rigging that could have changed the results.
“I think the points of recount and lack of transparency have all been made by now. The protest actions have not yielded the desired results. In addition, positive responses from the international community and rights groups have not at all been forthcoming. To continue in this vein, emphasizes the fact that we have no influence in these quarters. Instead, we are perceived as disgruntled. This is demoralizing to our 200,000 + support base! I feel that the proposed exercise will harm us in more ways than it could possibly help.”
The PPP member further urged the Party to attend Parliament and represent its support base.
“I strongly urge, as I did previously at our meeting, that we go to Parliament and represent our support base as a formidable opposition. We need to demonstrate a positive and united approach as a party and represent Guyanese at the highest level holding the de facto Government accountable for their actions. Their many actions taken since their ascendancy require our scrutiny, objection and rejection. In the height of rigged elections, Dr. Jagan went to Parliament as Opposition- he understood that the party’s voice needed to be heard and recorded at that level.”
Meanwhile, endorsing the views of Dr Persaud is Clinton Urling, who was on the PPP/C’s list of Candidates for the May 11 elections. He told iNews during a telephone interview on June 10 that he is not in agreement with the PPP’s decision to stay away from Parliament.
“I think the PPP should go to Parliament,” Urling said. He made it clear that while he was a Candidate, he is now no longer part of the discussions or actively involved in the decision making process of the PPP/C.
According to Urling, ever since he publicly criticized former President, Bharrat Jagdeo’s “de facto” leadership of the Party, the PPP/C has not made any contact with him to attend meetings.
“I am not involved in any discussions with the PPP and I don’t intend to be; like I said in that letter, once the former President [Jagdeo] has such an active role in the decision making apparatus of the Party. But as an outside observer now, it makes complete sense that they attend the Parliament,” Urling told iNews.
He believes that since his commentary on Jagdeo, the Party has excluded him from any meetings. He reiterated that there is a majority of Party and executive members who are displeased with the direction of the PPP.
But former Minister of Housing and Water and PPP member, Irfaan Ali has a different view on the situation. He is in agreement with the Party’s decision to boycott the Parliament, stating “I am in agreement with the collective decision.”
Ali told iNews that the priority issues for the PPP is a recount of votes and the resignation of Dr Steve Surujbally as Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission.
Meanwhile, the rift became obvious within the Party when a few days after the elections, former government Ministers under the PPP, namely Robert Persaud, Nanda Gopaul and Carolyn Rodrigues – Birkett reportedly took a different position on the PPP’s posture towards the APNU+AFC government.
The PPP/C has not yet named its parliamentarians and it is unclear as to whether they will attend any sittings in the National Assembly in the future. General Secretary, Clement Rohee will only say that consultations are ongoing as it relates to the issue.