PPP officially begins search for PM Candidate

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FILE: A section of the massive crowd that gathered in support of the PPP at a previous rally

With Nomination Day just under two weeks away, the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) has begun the process to choose a Prime Ministerial (PM) candidate and running mate for Presidential Candidate Dr Irfaan Ali.

At his weekly press conference last Friday, PPP General Secretary and Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo was asked for an update on the party’s selection of its PM candidate. At the time, Jagdeo had said that the process has not yet started.

“We’ve not engaged anyone. I’ve outlined the process. We plan to trigger the process in a matter of hours. And the process involves nominations from the different groups of MPs or members of the central committee.”

“Once the nominations are in, there will be an intense period of discussions with the MP’s and then at the party level, we will select a candidate,” Jagdeo had also said.

The PM candidate is, by tradition, drawn from the civic component of the party.

Meanwhile, Inews understands from well-placed sources that while there has not been a formal nomination as yet, there have been a number of professionals and civic members emerging as possible candidates. Among the names are retired Brigadier Mark Phillips, Juan Edghill, Priya Manikchand and Carolyn Rodrigues. The one on whom most assumption has rested is former Chief of Staff of the Guyana Defence Force (GDF), retired Brigadier Mark Phillips.

However, sources have also identified former Minister within the Finance Ministry, Juan Edghill, as a possible candidate. In addition, the names of former Social Services and Education Minister Priya Manickchand and former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Carolyn Rodrigues, have also been touted.

Phillips served as Chief of Staff of the GDF from 2013 to 2016. He previously attended the Royal Military Academy of Sandhurst in the United Kingdom and was Guyana’s nonresident Military attaché to Venezuela. Phillips is also the holder of a Master’s Degree in Public Sector Management.

Meanwhile, Edghill served in his former ministerial post from 2011 to 2015. Before that, he served as Chairman of the Guyana Post Office Corporation (GPOC) and Chairman of the Ethnic Relations Commission (ERC). The prelate is currently a PPP MP, focused on public procurement issues.

Manickchand, an attorney-at-law, was first elected to Parliament in 2006 as Human Services Minister. She became the Education Minister in 2011 and served in that position until 2015. She is presently a PPP frontbencher in Parliament, with a focus on education and social issues.

Carolyn Rodrigues was first appointed in the then Bharrat Jagdeo Administration as Amerindian Affairs Minister in 2001, serving in that position until 2008, when she was appointed as Foreign Affairs Minister. After 2015, she moved abroad and subsequently worked with the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) arm of the United Nations (UN).