Speaker will definitely be from opposition but who?

A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) and the Alliance For Change (AFC) are still locked in discussions as to who will be the Opposition nominee for Speaker of the National Assembly but AFC Chairman Khemraj Ramjattan yesterday held out that he wanted Moses Nagamootoo to fill the post.
However, AFC Leader Raphael Trotman told Stabroek News that the party will not abstain from the vote on the Speaker at the expense of an opposition person.  “We definitely want an opposition nominee to be speaker,” he said.  The PPP/C would like for Ralph Ramkarran to be returned as Speaker of the National Assembly, while APNU wants Deborah Backer to fill the role.

Ramjattan, who had previously hinted at possible support for Backer, yesterday insisted that the party was fully supporting Nagamootoo for the post, while adding that a decision could be made within a matter of days and “I didn’t tell you I am supporting the APNU’s candidate, I am supporting a fellow by the name of Nagamootoo,” Ramjattan said, during a press briefing yesterday. Nagamootoo, who was a PPP member for more than 50 years recently joined the AFC just ahead of the November 28 polls and Ramjattan insisted that he had all the qualities needed to be an effective Speaker.   Ramjattan said that the final decision would be made by consensus and magnanimity between the parties.  The AFC also indicated that its other nominee for the post, Trotman, withdrew his name.

Deborah Backer

Ramjattan said Nagamootoo possessed all the qualities to be an outstanding Speaker. “Experience, legal knowledge, knowing the Sir Michael Davies report, being with the constitutional reform commission from day one, understanding what needs to make parliament the premier institution of the land, a capacity to be diplomatic when that is required, a capacity to be very brutal if that is required,” Ramjattan listed as the qualities.

When asked if he considered Nagamootoo to be a polarizing figure, Ramjattan’s reply was: “absolutely not, as a matter of fact, he is as consensual as it can get,” Ramjattan said.

Meanwhile, APNU deputy leader Dr Rupert Roopnaraine indicated that the parties were closer to settling on a candidate, while indicating that the two parties hope to hammer out the issue before their next engagement with the government. This meeting is scheduled for next week.

Recently APNU Leader David Granger told Stabroek News that APNU and the AFC were committed to selecting a candidate that would best meet a set of identified requirements. He said that at first the parties were caught up with personalities but since then the talks have come on track with the focus being on seeing what is best needed for the effective running of the National Assembly and in selecting someone who can effectively do this.  While conceding that the decision was taking some time, Granger said that the parties were not in a rush to make a bad decision.

Moses Nagamootoo

Contacted yesterday presidential advisor on governance Gail Teixeira said she expected a decision on who will be speaker to be made soon.   She said that the parties were  expected to meet yesterday to discuss the lists of priorities but the meeting had to be postponed after all the parties did not submit their lists. The government, she said, had submitted their lists to APNU and the AFC on Monday evening, while APNU submitted a list yesterday. The AFC is yet to submit their list but Ramjattan indicated that this would be done today.

Teixeira had previously told Stabroek News that whoever will be chosen as speaker would be selected by consensus and magnanimity by the parties.

The selection of the Speaker and Deputy Speaker will be the first matter of business for the hung parliament when it is convened next month.

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