Opposition coalition A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) yesterday formally named Dr Rupert Roopnaraine as its prime ministerial candidate for the elections and unveiled a 24-member leadership team that includes former AFC member Dr Rishee Thakur as well as conservationist Sydney Allicock.
With APNU presidential candidate David Granger at his side, Roopnaraine himself made the announcement at a press conference yesterday. He also announced the party’s leadership team, which includes members from the five founding members of the coalition.
APNU’s leadership team, Roopnaraine explained, will be responsible for planning and guiding its programme for the upcoming elections. “We have attempted to ensure that the leadership contains young people,” he noted.
Apart from Thakur and Allicock, the leadership team includes Anthony Vieira, Dion Abrams, Tabitha Sarabo, Nicole Telford, Keith Scott, Vaughn Phillips and Desmond Trotman. The PNCR members of the team, which did not include party leader Robert Corbin, are former finance minister Carl Greenidge, Dr George Norton, Volda Lawrence, James Bond, Bishwaishwar ‘Cammie’ Ramsaroop, Dawn Hastings, Africo Selman, Deborah Backer, Christopher Jones, Cheryl Sampson, Basil Williams, Amna Ally and Ganesh Mahipaul.
Questioned about the large presence of the PNCR on the leadership team, Roopnaraine said that this was not excessive. “I believe it would be foolish to deny that the PNC has a very dominant place in the partnership as a whole,” he said. “It is the most organized. It is the largest party in the partnership. We don’t believe it has an inordinate advantage on the list. We believe that the proportion of the list that has gone to the PNC is as it ought to be,” he added.
Roopnaraine also announced that there will be a representative from the Diaspora. Granger will serve as the chair of the Leadership Team while Roopnaraine will be the vice chair. APNU’s campaign director Joseph Harmon has been identified as the party’s Election Agent.
Granger said that the party is currently working on its lists of candidates, which are being constructed from submissions made by the various parties within APNU. The construction of the lists is being informed by the “CEGGGO principle”: Competence, Ethnicity, Gender, Generation, Geography and Occupation. Roopnaraine indicated that the party’s lists for both the general and regional elections will have a number of young people.
Thakur, a lecturer at the University of Guyana, Tain campus, was an active member of the AFC but subsequently resigned. He told media operatives yesterday that he did not believe that the AFC’s approach would be able to attract voters across ethnic lines.
Allicock, meanwhile, hails from Region 9 and is the Executive Director of Surama Eco-Tourism Enterprise. Last year, he was one of the winners of ANSA McAL Caribbean Awards for Excellence. He was the Laureate in the Public and Civic Contributions category of the Awards, for which he was chosen because of his exemplary work in environment conservation, his efforts in protecting the interests of indigenous people and for creating a model of development which allows communities, government and business to participate in meaningful national growth.
Granger, 66, while responding to a question, indicated that he was “very satisfied” with Roopnaraine, 68, as his running mate, despite his earlier stated preference for a woman. “What I indicated in the early days of the campaign was a personal preference,” he said. “But I always made it clear that the decisions of the partnership were based on consensus and I said that when the consensual decision was announced, I’d be in full support of that decision,” he continued. According to Granger, he has known Roopnaraine for a long time and he was confident that he would be part of a winning ticket come elections day.
“So although I would have had a personal preference, we are in a partnership and our decisions are made consensually and I am very satisfied with the decision that has been arrived at,” he added.
Explaining the delay in naming the leadership team, Granger said APNU was looking for a team that would satisfy the principles accepted in the initial stages of the campaign. “So, it was not that there was any deliberate delay or that there was any uncertainty. The time taken represented the complexity of the search in which the partnership was engaged,” he said.
Asked about their attractiveness to the population, Granger identified experience and policy as being in their favour. “We have experience. We have policies which the population has embraced. We have the support of seven parties and we have been going around the country on a campaign at grassroots level which has energized the masses and which has been very attractive to people who want change in this country,” he stated.
A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) consists of the PNCR, WPA, the GAP, the NFA, the Guyana People’s Partnership (GPP), the Guyana National Congress (GNC), and the National Democratic Front (NDF) and other groups.