General Secretary of the People’s Progressive Party (PPP), Clement Rohee yesterday said the party won’t be attending Thursday’s sitting of Parliament and he fended off questions over whether its Central Committee had voted in favour of former President Bharrat Jagdeo being the Leader of the Opposition whenever the PPP/C takes up its seats.
Stabroek News has been told that in an informal vote last week, Jagdeo trounced immediate past president and former long-serving General Secretary Donald Ramotar in relation to who would be the opposition leader.
Stabroek News spoke with Ramotar as he was entering Freedom House yesterday after Rohee’s press briefing and he was also asked about the central committee’s vote at which point he chuckled. As he was walking away the former president questioned how important the issue was and who would be interested in central committee votes.
At the party’s weekly press briefing at Freedom House, Rohee repeated “let’s wait until we go to parliament and then we will see who stands where.”
Stabroek News asked Rohee specifically if there was a vote on the leadership on Friday last to which he said “that committee did not meet on that day, there was no vote, your information was misplaced.”
Prior to answering the question, Rohee noted that he would not be pressed further on the issue.
The General Secretary further stated that “the moment you began to quote from sources within the PPP your credibility would you know go under”. He was at the time speaking in relation to outstanding payments the party is yet to make for ads prior to the General Election but also alluded to a report in Stabroek News reporting that unnamed sources had said that the party had met to address the question of the Leader of the Opposition.
Rohee was asked if the party was withholding information until the conclusion of Jagdeo’s ongoing case where he recently made his first court appearance at Whim on a charge of making racially divisive statements in contravention of section 139D of The Representation of the People Act, Cap 1:02.
Jagdeo was a no show for his court case at the Whim Magistrate’s Court yesterday with one of his attorneys Murseline Bacchus saying that he was ill.
The party’s general secretary reiterated past statements that the party would not be rushing to make any decisions.
Rohee said that while the party was working on its own agenda and they would not be rushed, he could not state whether the PPP would be participating at the legislative level within the first 100 days of the Coalition’s term in government.
“I know for certain we will not go on Thursday to debate the President’s throne speech,” Rohee told members of the media. He said that the party’s agenda and that of the APNU+AFC Coalition did not coincide, while stating that the PPP did not make promises that needed to be completed within the first 100 days in office as the Coalition did.
He gave no concrete insight into the PPP’s next move as it related to representation in Parliament. At the last party press briefing he had said “we are approaching this thing at our own pace. We are not approaching this based on what somebody might have said in a newspaper, a diplomat might have said something in the newspaper or an individual might have expressed something in the newspaper. This is our, these are our seats …which were granted as a result of the votes we got in the elections. They will be taken up at the appropriate time when the party considers it necessary to do so.”
Rohee’s response would be seen as an indirect criticism of PPP/C MP in the 10th Parliament, Vindhya Vasini Persaud who stated in an email to several of her colleagues “I strongly urge, as I did previously at our meeting, that we go to Parliament and represent our support base as a formidable opposition.
“We need to demonstrate a positive and united approach as a party and represent Guyanese at the highest level holding the de facto Government accountable for their actions. Their many actions taken since their ascendancy require our scrutiny, objection and rejection. In the height of rigged elections, Dr. Jagan went to Parliament as Opposition- he understood that the party’s voice needed to be heard and recorded at that level.”
Thursday’s sitting of Parliament will see the tabling of several pieces of legislation including one to cap the benefits of former presidents.