Gov’t could call elections before parliament reconvenes -Rohee

The ruling People’s Progressive Party (PPP) has signalled that the government could call general elections before it is faced with a possible vote on a no-confidence motion when the National Assembly reconvenes in October.

“There are two options. One option for the government and the ruling party to determine a date for elections; the other is for the opposition by way of a no-confidence motion to bring down the government,” PPP General Secretary Clement Rohee told a news conference at Freedom House yesterday.

He said that since the latter has already been established, general elections could not be ruled out. Rohee did not answer definitively if the PPP would be calling general elections on its own but instead said that “we have that card in our hand that we can put on the table at any given point.”

Rohee stated that prior to a date being set, a “host of political factors” would need to be considered. He added that the party would need, for the time being, to “hold that card close.”

Asked what work the party has done so far to prepare for general elections, considering the Alliance For Change’s lodging of the no-confidence motion with the Clerk of the National Assembly Sherlock Isaacs on Thursday, Rohee said that all of the matters that needed to be discussed were currently under consideration at the party level.

He said that the party’s Central Committee met on Friday, where both he and President Donald Ramotar discussed the way forward for the party.

While he admitted that the party has been in contact with the Guyana Elections Commission (Gecom), Rohee noted that the most recent dealings have not been comprehensive in the last few weeks. He said that the various concerns felt by the PPP had been highlighted to Gecom’s Chairman Dr Steve Surujbally. Rohee noted that the party’s course of action was paramount because the country was “more or less on election footing.”

Rohee noted that simultaneously the party would be monitoring the “level of preparedness” exhibited by the general public. When Stabroek News asked about the party’s preparedness, Rohee said the PPP was ready for elections.

This newspaper pressed Rohee on whether it would be reaching out to former stalwarts to assist with reinventing its public image. He said that any dialogue with former PPP members, such as the former Speaker of the House Ralph Ramkarran, who has become a very outspoken critic of the party, would be a decision made at the Central Committee level.

Rohee dodged further questions posed by the media regarding the likelihood that Ramotar may not be the presidential candidate on the PPP ticket should early elections be initiated. He once again noted that such decisions would need to be made at the party level. Rohee, however, did not flat out deny that the party could have multiple candidates for the presidential position. He even stated that it was normal for parties to change their minds on such policy matters.

If passed, the no-confidence vote means that general elections will need to be held within three months.

The PPP/C has said that it is prepared for general elections but political analysts are of the view that none of the three political groups in the National Assembly relish the prospect of going back to the polls so soon after 2011, given the financing and organisational challenges this will pose.

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