PPP/C presidential candidate Donald Ramotar has again defended his active involvement in recent government engagements and outreaches saying that as general secretary of the ruling party he has a direct interest in the affairs of the government.
“All the years, I’ve travelled to every nook and cranny in this country as general secretary of the party. It’s nothing new that I am doing now,” Ramotar said on Friday while responding to a question posed during a media briefing at Freedom House.
“I, of course, have a big interest in the activities of the government being general secretary of the ruling party, so I have a direct and legitimate interest in what is taking place,” Ramotar added.
In recent weeks, Ramator has accompanied President Bharrat Jagdeo and government ministers on official state business. Ramotar has even been photographed making donations to various groups on behalf of the government.
Weeks after being identified as his party’s presidential candidate, Ramotar was appointed political advisor to President Jagdeo. Cabinet Secretary Dr Roger Luncheon said that Ramotar’s appointment was “legitimate” on the identification of a need by the Head of State.
The PPP, in a statement, said Ramotar would not be receiving a salary from the state and that the general secretary had been serving informally as a political advisor to the president, prior to his official appointment. “The People’s Progressive Party rejects any suggestion that the service to the nation of the general secretary and presidential candidate Mr Donald Ramotar as a political advisor is an abuse of state resources,” the party said.
However, even before, he was selected as his party’s presidential candidate, questions were raised about Ramotar’s presence during Cabinet outreaches and during overseas trips with the President.
PPP stalwart Moses Nagamootoo, who was also vying to be the party’s presidential candidate, had criticized what he had termed the “state sponsorship” of Ramotar for the party’s presidential nomination.
Following Nagamootoo’s statement, Ramotar defended his inclusion on these trips. “I am the general secretary of the PPP and the PPP was elected to the government. In the final analysis, the party gains or loses on what the government does and I have to be interested in everything that happens in government,” Ramotar had said. According to him, the PPP believes in a division between the party and government and does not support the notion of party paramountcy.