The People’s Progressive Party (PPP), which successfully toppled the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) Government on December 21, 2018, says it is awaiting the announcement of the constitutionally mandated elections date by President David Granger before it starts the process of selecting its prime ministerial candidate.
The Party’s General Secretary Bharrat Jagdeo told those gathered at the fundraising dinner on Saturday that the Party have deviated from the traditional process of selecting the prime ministerial candidate to include the Civic component of the PPP and that the process has already been streamlined.
He added that there will be an announcement of a prime ministerial candidate before Nomination Day after the official announcement of a date for the hosting of General and Regional Elections.
“We have spent over the last couple of weeks defining the process through which we will be selecting the prime ministerial candidate. We have departed a bit from the traditional process to broaden it a bit more to the inclusion of the civic in the selection process. Traditionally, it used to be only the Party and so now that we have defined the process, we’re waiting for an election date to decide when we will trigger that process,” Jagdeo explained.
He further stated that the process “can move swiftly. Within a week of triggering that process we can select out prime ministerial candidate with adequate discussions on that issue. I want to assure that there is no requirement on Nomination Day to name the prime ministerial candidate so it is not that urgent but we will still have a prime ministerial candidate before Nomination Day which is 32 days before the elections are held.”
On January 19, 2019, almost one month after it toppled the Government through the passage of the No-confidence Motion in the National Assembly – when AFC parliamentarian Charrandas Persaud made a conscious decision and voted in favour of the motion – the PPP elected its former Housing and Water Minister, Irfaan Ali, as its presidential candidate to contest the constitutionally mandated General and Regional Elections.
According to Article 106 (6) and (7) of the Constitution: “The Cabinet including the President shall resign if the Government is defeated by the vote of a majority of all the elected members of the National Assembly on a vote of confidence.” And “Notwithstanding its defeat, the Government shall remain in office and shall hold an election within three months, or such longer period as the National Assembly shall by resolution supported by not less than two-thirds of the votes of all the elected members of the National Assembly determine, and shall resign after the President takes the oath of office following the election.”
However, the Government has been pussyfooting on the announcement of an elections date and have challenged the validity of the no-confidence resolution since Charrandas Persaud is a dual citizen. Acting Chief Justice Roxane George has since ruled that while Persaud is a dual citizen, his vote remains valid as a result of the doctrine of necessity as well as the resolution was validly carried having garnered the majority of the votes of the elected members of the House.
It has been 71 days since the resolution was carried and no move has been made by the Government to have elections held within the constitutionally mandated 90 days. Additionally, the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) has since indicated that it will require at least five months to prepare. A vote was also taken to have house-to-house registration conducted; treating the issue as if it is a normal one.
Prior to his departure to Cuba for cancer treatment, President Granger ordered GECOM to begin its preparations for the hosting of elections and also requested to meet with the Opposition Leader.
However, at Saturday’s fundraiser, Jagdeo told supporters that the President’s request reeks of desperation since it is the PPP alone that can extend the life of the present Government beyond the March 19 deadline.
“They know that only the People’s Progressive Party can extend the life of this Government because Article 106 (7) of our Constitution outlines that clearly… so they are desperate for a meeting to do that. But we have argued that there has been absolutely no good faith effort to meet the deadline, therefore there is no need for a meeting unless a date for the elections is set and is set with regards to the Constitution,” he stated.
“Not now they want house-to-house registration to push elections to December or next year. We will never acceded to that and they will be solely responsible for making this country go into unconstitutional territory so after that date expires… in Guyana we will have an illegal President, an illegal Government, illegal Ministers.
No contract signed by that Government will be respected by the People’s Progressive Party. There will be consequences to this. The country will go into a serious period of turmoil and all of you will have to be part of that. There will be strikes, we will have to come on the streets, not in a violent manner, to demonstrate that we are not going to allow our freedom to be impaired or taken away from us…” Jagdeo added.
The former President further told supporters that the PPP is not bothered by the Government’s daily shenanigans and excuses to hold onto power, explaining that it only reveals the true nature of the People’s National Congress – the largest demographic of the APNU.
“People will understand in the upcoming days the true nature of the Government and the international community has now progressively, because we have been meeting with them discussing with them they too now understand that this Government will push the country into a constitutional crisis… we will continue to work with the international community because we have a lot of sympathetic ears there. The pressure will come from us here and it will come from abroad and the nature of that pressure will change once the country goes into unconstitutional territory which will happen in a few weeks’ time,” he explained.
Restoration of democracy
Meanwhile, the Party’s presidential candidate, Irfaan Ali, promised supporters the restoration of democracy which is being destroyed by the current APNU/AFC Administration. He said that tracing back to all the times the PPP has been in power, history would show that its leaders have fought for and guarded the democracy of the nation which is the foundation.
“Our country is built on the Constitution, on the respect for the Constitution and when the foundation is threatened, when the foundation is being trampled upon then the nation can shake in every aspect of national rights and it is unfortunate that after the return to democracy that we are faced with such a challenge in a world today where democracy is guarded very tightly,” he explained.
Ali said citizens ought to trust their Government and everything that they promised to do, alluding to the lofty promises of the APNU/AFC’s 2015 manifesto. He accused the Government of fooling the nation with the promises it is yet to deliver upon. He urged supporters to inspect every manifesto the PPP/C has produced, adding that they would see that over 80 per cent of those promises was delivered.
The presidential hopeful further acknowledged that while in Government the PPP/C would have done extraordinary things but there were also gaps that he promised to fill once elected. He noted that Region Three (Essequibo Islands–West Demerara) which he hails from, has felt the brunt of the destruction by the APNU/AFC Administration, identifying the destruction of the sugar industry with the closure of the Wales Estate and the impending destruction of the rice industry.
Ali told those gathered at the fundraiser, which was held at Leonora, West Coast Demerara (WCD), that once in power, the PPP would focus on returning Guyana to its former glory of a nation that was thriving and accommodating to investors.