The PPP/C has finalised its list of representatives for the National Assembly, according to PPP General Secretary Clement Rohee, who yesterday signalled that former president Bharrat Jagdeo is tipped to be the opposition leader.
Rohee also announced that the PPP/C had submitted its regional lists electronically to the Guyana Elections Commission (Gecom) over the weekend and hard copies were submitted yesterday. The submission was made ahead of today’s meeting of the 10 Regional Democratic Councils, which are scheduled to elect their respective Regional Chairs and Vice-Chairs.
Speaking at a press conference at the party’s Robb Street headquarters yesterday, Rohee said that while the parliamentary list was completed, it has not yet been submitted to Gecom. He, however, called it a “beautiful” list, with the right balance of gender and youth.
Stabroek News had previously reported that Jagdeo was expected to be the opposition leader whenever the PPP/C formally takes up its seats in the National Assembly.
Rohee was subsequently reported in the Guyana Times on Sunday as saying that Jagdeo was the clear frontrunner in the party’s considerations of a candidate and that it had neared consensus on the decision.
When asked to confirm the report that Jagdeo is going to be the next opposition leader, Rohee was coy yesterday. “I could confirm that I did give the interview. I could confirm that I gave the interview to a Guyana Times correspondent. And I could confirm that what is in the Guyana Times is what I said,” Rohee said.
He said Jagdeo is a “very good fit” for any forum as he is a “man for all seasons; you can’t want better than that.”
Further pressed, he asked that the reentry of his party into the Assembly be awaited as everything would be revealed then. He said he did not “want to reveal here and now the total package; we have a package that we have to present; we have to present 32 members of parliament, one of which will be the leader of the opposition….”
He said one member would also be identified as the chief whip and “if it comes to that, one of them could be the Deputy Speaker.” Upon his appointment, current House Speaker Dr Barton Scotland had indicated that he was informed that the Deputy Speaker usually comes from the opposition and since there was no opposition present then the election would be deferred.
Asked about the role of former president Donald Ramotar in the party, Rohee said almost on a daily basis he is “at Freedom House doing work that he considers to be important to him… and the question about his presence in Parliament will be revealed when we re-enter Parliament.”
Rohee would not confirm whether the PPP/C’s prime ministerial candidate for the elections, former director general of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Elisabeth Harper, would be among its representatives in Parliament.
Meanwhile, Rohee yesterday maintained that the PPP/C’s regional lists were rejected by Gecom last Friday, since the security guards manning the gate at Gecom’s headquarters indicated that no one was in the offices and they could not accept the list.
Chief Election Officer Keith Lowenfield had told this newspaper that he had spoken to the party’s elections agent Ganga Persaud and indicated that all of the commission’s offices were closed as staff were at a retreat.
He said he made arrangements with Persaud to have the lists submitted on Saturday and as a result he was surprised at the party’s subsequent statement that Gecom had rejected its lists.
“The fact of the matter is that it was not accepted…,” Rohee, however, said, before adding that he was unaware that Gecom’s staff were away from their offices.
“It would be foolhardy of me—if I knew, let’s say the Wednesday or the Thursday, that was going to be the case—that I would turn up the Friday with this document in my hand, knowing that the people were not going be there. That is the height of stupidity,” Rohee added.