By Fareeza Haniff
[www.inewsguyana.com] – It has been approximately one month now since the swearing in of a new government but the Guyana’ only Opposition Party – the People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPP/C) – is yet to select who will be its Opposition Leader.
There are reports that four executive members are being touted for the post, which includes former Presidents, Bharrat Jagdeo and Donald Ramotar along with General Secretary, Clement Rohee and former Finance Minister, Dr Ashni Singh.
As a matter of fact, Dr Singh was firstly nominated by PPP member, Dr Vindhya Persaud, who in an email to the central executive committee, made it clear that the composition of the Opposition needs to be “credible and appealing not only to our support base but to every person who will vote in the next election.”
She explained that the Leader of the Opposition must be carefully chosen to reflect “youth, brilliance, articulate expression and a sound grasp of the country’s financial status.”
“I would like to propose Dr. Ashni Singh as representing these. Our opposition needs to be a blend of experience tempered with competent and politically astute youth. The experience of Gail Teixeira, Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett, Indra Chandrapaul, Elisabeth Harper and Robeson Benn should not be squandered,” Dr Persaud had said in her email.
Additionally, Rohee, at a previous PPP press conference, had noted that he too would consider being the Opposition Leader if offered the position but on Monday, June 15, he dismissed reports that there is bickering within the Party for the post, noting that there is “healthy debate” ongoing.
When asked, he could not confirm if indeed Jagdeo, Ashni, Ramotar and himself are contending for the post.
“All of that is good and healthy debate within the PPP. Individual members are free to identify their preferences until such time reaches in the debate when one candidate emerges but at this point in time, any Party member is free to suggest who they think is suitably qualified to hold that position and that’s healthy for the PPP,” Rohee explained.
Meanwhile, the Party is still to compile its list of parliamentarians even after boycotting the opening session on June 10. Rohee again insisted that the issue is still under “constant evaluation” by the executive committee.
He explained that the PPP/C is still discussing and selecting its Regional Councillors, after which they will turn their attention to who will be in Parliament.
Rohee made it clear that the PPP/C will not heed the advice of the many diplomats and organisations calling for the Party to take its seat in the National Assembly.
“We’re approaching this thing at our own pace; we’re not approaching this based on what somebody might have said in the newspaper. These are our seats to which we were granted… they will be taken up at the appropriate time when the Party considers it necessary to do so,” the General Secretary said.
He reminded that in 1997, former President Desmond Hoyte and his team boycotted Parliament for two years. An upset Rohee noted that the PPP/C cannot possibly attend Parliament when its members and supporters are being “witch hunted.”
“How do you expect the PPP to respond to this invitation for talks on inclusive and shared governance in the Parliament when you are witch hunting our members and supporters? How does the APNU+AFC coalition expect this to happen? Our supporters and our members are being mistreated in a manner that is totally unbecoming…and at the same time you are telling us that we must sit with you and talk? About what?” Rohee questioned.
He further noted that the issue is an internal one for the PPP.
“You can’t be behaving like this towards the PPP and expect we would go like sheep to talks or into Parliament. We’re not going to be duped into those situations,” Rohee said.