Former President Bharrat Jagdeo was today elected General Secretary (GS) of the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) positioning him to determine the path of the party and opening the way for him to run again as President.
In a release this afternoon, the PPP said that voting was by secret ballot and the only other contestant for the position was Dr Frank Anthony. Stabroek News was told that Jagdeo won comfortably.
The constitution contains a two-term limit but a court ruling by former Chief Justice Ian Chang appears to have cleared the way for a third term run. This decision is to be challenged.
This is the first time that Jagdeo has held the post of GS of the PPP, the leader of the party. Observers also see his decision to contest for the post as an attempt to further secure himself in the face of a number of investigations that the APNU+AFC government has launched including the one pertaining to the Pradoville housing scheme.
The PPP said that the following persons were elected to the Executive Committee as follows:
1) Anil Nandlall- 28 votes
2) Clement Rohee- 26 votes
3) Irfaan Ali- 25 votes
4) Roger Luncheon- 25 votes
5) Gail Teixeira -25 votes
6) Zulfikar Mustapha- 24 votes
7) Donald Ramotar-23 votes
8) Frank Anthony-22 votes
9) Neil Kumar-22 votes
10) Shyam Nokta-22 votes
11) Clinton Collymore-21 votes
12) Collin Croal-21 votes
13) Dharamkumar Seeraj- 21
14) Pauline Sukhai- 21
15) Bheri Ramsaran-20
On December 21, Jagdeo had not ruled out contesting for the position of General Secretary of the party.
Responding to a question at a press conference, Jagdeo said: “Those are issues that we will discuss at the party level. Whenever the time comes, you will know about it.”
Jagdeo secured the most votes (718) for the party’s Central Committee (CC), in which 35 members were elected. The elections were conducted during the party’s 31st Congress held at the Cotton Field Secondary School, Essequibo Coast from December 17 to 19.
Jagdeo came out 98 votes ahead of the second placed Frank Anthony (620), giving him a mandate to take the reins of the party if he wanted it. Long-serving executive member and current opposition Chief Whip, Gail Teixeira (583) emerged third in the voting.
The theme for the Congress was: ‘Strengthen the Party, Defend Democracy, Onward to Victory.’
With the PPP having lost power following the 2015 general elections, the three-day congress at Cotton Field, Essequibo was seen as not only vital to repositioning the party to challenge the governing APNU+AFC coalition but also to deciding which of its leaders would steer the campaign.
At the last Congress held in 2013 at Port Mourant, Berbice, former GS of the PPP, Donald Ramotar had earned the top spot (886 votes) and was followed closely by Jagdeo (851 votes).
It came as no surprise that Jagdeo won the most votes this time around and observers said that since he remained interested in a third term as president, the GS post would be a perfect platform for him.
The former GS is Clement Rohee who secured the position in 2013 after Ramotar, who was then president, declined to serve another term.
Anil Nandlall (548) dropped from the fourth spot he gained three years ago to fifth with Ramotar (570) placing fourth.
Rohee (522) who had placed tenth at the last congress moved to sixth; Ganga Persaud (512), who had placed twelfth, made it to the seventh spot and Irfaan Ali (511) who placed fifteenth in 2013 came at number eight at this election.
When asked if he would like to retain the post as GS, Rohee told Stabroek News on December 21, “of course.” But he too said that it was “for the party to decide” whether or not that would be the case.
Voting at this year’s congress would have been pivotal to the contenders for the GS post as they would have had to get as many of their supporters as possible on the CC to influence the vote for GS when it is held sometime in the New Year. Observers saif that Jagdeo had the required numbers on the CC.