PPP Executive Member Clement Rohee yesterday said that the serious charges made that the party’s leadership has been compromised by corrupt interests are designed to influence its upcoming congress.
“Reading recent articles, especially in the Sunday Stabroek, you would recognise that there is a certain prolific writer who is hammering away at the PPP, to which he once belong[ed] and the congress, in particular. The objective, it would seem to us, is to influence the outcome of the congress,” Rohee said, in a clear reference to former PPP executive Ralph Ramkarran, who he did not identify by name.
Rohee was speaking at the party’s weekly press conference, held at Freedom House, in response to the various criticisms that the party has significantly strayed from the ideology of founder leader Dr Cheddi Jagan. However, he stated that the questions being asked and the concerns being raised by critics and by former party members were an attack on the party.
“What we have noticed over the last few months [is] there seems to be a concerted attempt by certain individuals who were once leaders of this party to influence the congress; to influence the direction of the of the congress; to influence the membership and we believe that as we get closer to congress such attempts will intensify,” he said.
The PPP’s 30th Congress is scheduled to be held at Port Mourant, Berbice from August 2 to 4.
Rohee said the “attacks” on the party were “objectively on the side of the opposition. It is the detractors; it is the defectors; the people who have left us who you would hear those views coming from. You see them publishing those views in the newspapers,” he added.
In his ‘Conversation Tree’ column, which is published in the Sunday Stabroek, Ramkarran recently charged that the PPP government is reluctant to do anything about corruption due to its link with three groups who finance the party’s leadership, which in turn serves their interests.
He identified the groups as a collection of wealthy and influential businessmen who have high political connections; contractors for state projects; and bureaucrats in the public sector.
“This situation is a direct result of the failure of the PPP to build on the work of [the later former president] Cheddi Jagan and to deal with corruption. Many of these contractors, businessmen and suppliers of goods and services have close links with the PPP, including members of the leadership,” he wrote.
Ramkarran, who served as Speaker of the National Assembly, resigned from the party after 50 years of membership over his concerns about corruption.
Asked by Stabroek News whether these allegations and comments made by Ramkarran are valid, Rohee stated: “SN plus KN plus RR plus MN plus KR equals zero.” Stabroek News asked Rohee if that was the official statement by the PPP in response to Ramkarran’s recent critiques, which had been promised by Central Committee member Anil Nandlall. The first two initials refer to Stabroek News and Kaieteur News, while the other three would refer to Ramkarran and AFC Vice-Chairman Moses Nagamootoo and AFC leader Khemraj Ramjattan. Like Ramkarran, Nagamootoo and Ramjattan are former PPP members.
Rohee stated that only Ramkarran would have inside knowledge of the party’s affairs but added that “he would not be very much acquainted, contrary to the picture which the Stabroek News has painted; he would not have been involved in many of the decisions in respect to the elections.” Rohee added that the party itself showcased unity because while a few members left the party and became critical, the vast majority of members stayed with the party.
Stabroek News inquired since criticism was being perceived as “attacks,” if it wasn’t possible that current party members opt to stay quiet and refrain from questioning policy. Rohee stated that party members have meetings throughout the year where they could raise questions and provide criticism. He said the various meetings were held so members could “raise all kinds of question to criticise the leadership; to criticise ministers to make recommendations to make observations… ‘Why is the government not fixing that dam? When are you going to fix that bridge? We need the ball field for this school you promised us?’ This, these are the types of critical issues these people come to the meetings [with] and we have to have the answers for them,” he added.
Rohee, however, did not give examples where current members would tackle issues of transparency and corruption, once again insinuating that only non-party members would “attack” the party principles. “It is the PPP that is being attacked and not the PPP that is being helped to find answer to certain problems,” Rohee stated.