Speaker of the National Assembly Ralph Ramkarran yesterday publicly declared his interest in serving as the PPP’s presidential candidate at next year’s general election.
“…The PPP will determine its candidate for president in due course and if I am the nominee I will accept with humility,” Ramkarran, who is also an executive of the party, said at the opening of the Third Conference of the Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Guyana (FITUG) at the Umana Yana. In an address that emphasised the need for FITUG to join the debate on economic and social policies, he told the gathering of workers that “by your efforts, I will see Guyana rise to greater heights.”
Although he previously confirmed that his chances at gaining the nomination as the candidate are very good, the conference was the first public forum where a party leader has indicated his interest in serving as the party’s presidential candidate.
Ramkarran said he was fully cognisant of “the enormous challenges ahead in putting in place the systems to ensure the elimination of ethnic insecurity and ethnic politicisation, in building our economy on the foundations already laid by this and the previous administration, in pursuing a low carbon development strategy as brilliantly advanced by our president, in developing our hydro electric potential, in increasing our productive capacity in agro-industries and other areas.”
Ramkarran further assured that he is committed to the agenda of FITUG and the working people, noting that it is a commitment that he undertook at the start of his political life and one that he still adheres to presently. “It is a commitment that I will fearlessly uphold if I am called upon by my party and our country to serve you as your president,” he emphasised.
He noted that PPP/C governments have, since 1992, given unprecedented emphasis to the interests of the trade union movement and the working people. In particular, he said President Bharrat Jagdeo’s commitment to the welfare of vulnerable groups was unparalleled in any decade in the country’s history. “It has shown that in economic adversity, confidence in the ability of the working people is the first port of call and my experience is that workers never fail to respond willingly and wholeheartedly,” he said. “We will continue, and if I have anything to do with it, I will support the continuing reliance on policies which will empower working people, the poor and disadvantaged as I have done all my life.” He added that his commitment has not been misplaced, noting that he had seen the country liberated from colonialism, authoritarian rule and economic distress by the indomitable working class. “…And, by your efforts, I will see Guyana rise to greater heights,” he added.
In addition to Ramkarran other PPP executives—General Secretary Donald Ramotar, Home Affairs Minister Clement Rohee and MP Moses Nagamootoo—have already indicated their willingness to head the PPP slate next year.
Unlike the last two general elections, there is no automatic presidential candidate for the party, owing to the inability of President Bharrat Jagdeo to seek re-election because of a constitutional term-limit.
Ramotar recently said the process to identify the candidate is still in the preliminary stages. He said too that while there is no timeline for the completion of the process, it is his personal belief that the person would be identified by the end of the year.
Both Ramotar and Ramkarran have explained that the selection of the candidate would be a process that is in line with how the party makes all other important decisions, including its last two presidential candidates.
The party’s Executive Committee is expected to recommend a candidate, either by consensus or a vote, to the Central Committee, which would have the final say. On previous occasions, the Central Committee has adopted the recommendation of the Executive Committee.
Nagamootoo, however, has stated that the process should involve all the party’s membership. He told Stabroek News that a system needed to be put in place where potential candidates could declare their interest and their availability and submit data that could be circulated to the party members. “I feel that the question is not who, the question is by what process,” he said. “I would withdraw from any process that is not fair and in which the membership of the party… [is] not included in the broadest possible consultation,” he said. He also said that if he did not receive the party’s nod he would support another candidate, once the selection was done in an open and democratic manner.