Reassigned minister, Dr. Rupert Roopnaraine following consultations with his party – the Working People’s Alliance (WPA) – has tendered his letter of resignation to President David Granger who earlier today said that he has not yet accepted it.
Responding to queries shortly after swearing in an appellate judge and four High Court judges at State House, he said “Dr. Roopnaraine has resigned? I have approved a resignation?”
Asked if he did receive a resignation, Granger told reporters that he did receive a letter from Roopnaraine but he would not disclose the contents.
Dr David Hinds, an executive member of the WPA, told Stabroek News subsequently that Roopnaraine did submit a resignation and before doing so, the one-time Education Minister who was reassigned to the Ministry of the Presidency (MoTP) just over a month ago, consulted “fully’ with the party and enjoys the party’s full support.
Hinds indicated that at this time the party will not release the reason for the resignation without first acquiring Roopnaraine’s permission.
According to President Granger, Roopnaraine cannot resign “until I have accepted a resignation and as far as I am concerned I have not done so”, he said.
Asked if he will accept a resignation, he said that he has to meet Roopnaraine to discuss “certain matters with him and when those discussions have ended if he wishes to speak with the media he will speak with the media but right now Dr. Roopnaraine remains a member of the Cabinet”.
The 74-year-old, Roopnaraine has been visibly ill for at least a year with reports reaching this newspaper that his illness has been so severe that he is often absent from his office greatly stymieing the ability of the Education Ministry to function on a day-to-day basis. His reassignment from the ministry was on the grounds of performance.
Stabroek News was unable to reach Roopnaraine today for a comment.
Minister of State Joseph Harmon in a video message on June 13 spoke of Roopnaraine’s reassignment.
“The President…briefed cabinet that he had a discussion with Dr Roopnaraine and after that discussion it was agreed that Dr Roopnaraine would be reassigned from the Ministry of Education to the Ministry of the Presidency with specific responsibility for the public service,” he had said while further explaining that Roopnaraine will remain a member of Cabinet and of the National Assembly.
Minister Nicolette Henry whose substantive post is Minister within the Ministry of Education is presently performing the functions of the office of the Minister of Education.
The formal announcement of the reassignment of Roopnaraine was made by government on the same day that the WPA observed the 37th death anniversary of one of its founders and then leader Dr Walter Rodney. Rodney was assassinated on June 13, 1980. The WPA subsequently expressed concern at the timing.
It has also said that the reassigning was done without consultation; the latest instance of sidelining since the APNU+AFC coalition government of which WPA belongs took office.
Roopnaraine’s letter of resignation comes days before the members of governing coalition member APNU are scheduled to meet. The WPA is a member of APNU. At the meeting which will be held on Saturday, the WPA plans to raise a number of issues including the timing of Roopnaraine’s reassignment and its feeling of being sidelined.