Dr Roopnaraine’s ‘reshuffle’: President to hold high level meeting with WPA – Harmon

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…says in light of the concerns and calls raised by WPA 

The Working People’s Alliance (WPA) concerns over the shifting of Dr Rupert Roopnarine’s, Ministerial responsibilities are to be discussed at a high-level meeting between President David Granger and the party Executive. The meeting is scheduled to be held on Saturday, June 17 at 10:00hrs at State House, Minister of State Harmon said.

The meeting follows concerns raised by the WPA, the political party that Dr Rupert Roopnaraine represents in the coalition, A Partnership for National Unity+Alliance for Change (APNU/AFC), government that they were not consulted on his removal from the Ministry of Education to a Ministry within the Ministry of the Presidency (MOTP).

WPA Executive Dr David Hinds

Executive Member of the WPA, David Hinds had said that his party was not amused by the arbitrary removal of Dr Roopnarine from the substantive position of Minister of Education.

Hinds posited that aside from Dr. Roopnarine’s health challenges, he and the entire WPA, feels that he is competent enough to carry out the functions of Minister of Education and is convinced that he did so from the time of his appointment. 

The WPA executive also expressed disappointment that the Government did not seek to have consultations with the party- a member of the coalition Government- before it made such a decision.

As such, Hinds had said that the WPA would be seeking to have a meeting with President Granger to understand the position of the Government and to stress the need for more consultation to take place especially in matters of such importance.

“We have said over and over again that in the spirit of a coalition, you need consultation and my own writings have been saying that one of the weaknesses of the government is that there is not enough consultation and we would want to think that coming out of the meeting that we would be able to impress on the President , the need for broader consultation within the APNU and within the larger coalition.”

The WPA had also lamented the fact that Government announced a cabinet change which included Dr Roopnarine, on the anniversary that the party’s founding leader, Walter Rodney was assassinated.

“We are not amused by the fact that you would announce on the anniversary of the assassination of Dr Walter Rodney, this kind of Cabinet reshuffle, which in the mind of the population we would understand they would see it as some kind of demotion. We would have preferred some form of consultation and we would have advised against making that announcement on June 13…I’m not accusing the government of deliberately choosing this day but perhaps the government would have been sensitive to understand that June 13 is sacred to us” said Hinds. 

Minister of State, Joseph Harmon

However, Harmon addressing the post-Cabinet press briefing at MOTP on Friday assured that leaders of the party were in fact consulted prior to reshuffling of Dr Roopnaraine.

“Dr Roopnaraine was moved, the President did consult with the Chairperson of the WPA Desmond Trotman as well as the Leader of the Alliance Raphael Trotman,” Minister Harmon said.

He said that the Saturday meeting, which the WPA Executive has been calling for, will seek to “deal with adequately” the detail of consultations and the concerns that have been expressed by the party.

President Granger announced to Cabinet at its meeting on Tuesday, June 13 of his decision to reassign Dr Roopnaraine, from the Ministry of Education to the MOTP. Minister Harmon stated that the President explained that after a discussion on Monday, June 12, with Dr Roopnaraine, it was agreed that he would be assigned to the post of Minister of Public Service within the MOTP.

Dr Roopnaraine’s new appointment took effect from the June 15, and he remains a member of the Cabinet and a member of the National Assembly.

Cabinet was further briefed that a Department within MOTP would be created to oversee the implementation of innovations and reforms in the education system and that the Minister within the Ministry of Education Nicolette Henry will perform the functions of the Office of the Minister of Education until further notice.

Minister Harmon explained on Friday that Minister Henry would perform the function as substantive Education Minister “until such time as the president in his deliberate judgment consider that there is some other arrangement that needs to be put in place.”

He also said that the President has expressed confidence in the ministers to perform in their capacities.

Dr Roopnaraine flanked by reporters before Parliament convened on Thursday

The Minister of State also clarified the role of the new department that will be created within the MOTP to oversee the implementation of innovations and reforms in the education system.

He explained that what the creation of the new department does is remove these functions from the Education Ministry and place it into the hands of “a technical set of persons who are being identified for that purpose.”

This special group of persons, the Minister said will pay particular attention to the findings coming out of the recently concluded Commission of Inquiry into state of education, and other areas of concern in the sector that needs to be immediately addressed.

In Thursday’s sitting of the National Assembly, the former Education Minister said that he did not request to be moved to the MOTP. He also told reporters, “your serve at the pleasure of the President.”
The Minister also confirmed for media operatives that the WPA—the party he represents in the APNU/AFC coalition—was never consulted and instead pointed to a meeting with the President, Head of State David Granger, at which point the request was made.

Dr Roopnaraine did indicate however, that “it’s a new challenge…Well I must say I am looking forward to the new Ministry.”

Recalling his tenure at the Education Ministry, he told media operatives, “I did, I believe, the best I could in the education Ministry, we got some things achieved. “


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