Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo yesterday said that irrespective of the outcome of the impending ruling by the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) on the presidential term limit, which will determine whether he can run for a third term, he will continue to lead the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) as its General Secretary and would also play a role in its next government.
“In that capacity, I will continue to spearhead the Party’s struggle for a better life for all Guyanese, especially the working people, the poor and the under-privileged, for racial and national unity and for victory at the polls at the next Local Government, Regional and National Elections,” Jagdeo said in a statement issued by the party last evening.
His statement comes in wake of the announcement by the regional court that it will deliver a ruling on the constitutionality of the presidential term limit on Tuesday at 2 pm.
The Trinidad-based final court will be pronouncing on the state’s appeal of decisions by both the Supreme Court and the Guyana Court of Appeal, which have ruled in favour of Cedric Richardson, a private citizen who in the run-up to the 2015 general elections challenged restrictions created by amendments to Article 90 of the Constitution.
His argument had been that Act No 17 of 2001, which was passed by a two-thirds majority of all elected members of the National Assembly to only allow for a president to serve two terms, “unconstitutionally curtails and restricts” his sovereign and democratic rights and freedom as a qualified elector to elect Jagdeo, who served for two terms, as executive president.
Attorneys for the state had argued that amendments to effect the presidential term limit were done in accordance with the Constitution.
Acknowledging the impending decision, Jagdeo, who has distanced himself repeatedly from the case, said yesterday that multitudes of supporters of the PPP/C and even across the political divide have made contact with him.
“Many concerns were raised, including the public statements of those in Government in respect of a particular outcome. As a result, I am moved to publicly assure that whatever the ruling is, I am and will remain the General Secretary of the PPP,” he said.
“Unlike the 2011-2015 period, where I played no formal part in the PPP Administration, I intend to be a formal part of the next PPP government as we resume the implementation of plans to build a better country of which all our people can feel proud,” he added.
It is expected that if the terms limit is upheld, it could deepen divisions in the PPP over who should lead the party as its presidential candidate at the 2020 general elections.
In his statement, Jagdeo, who returned to lead the party in the National Assembly and secured the General Secretary post after its defeat in the 2015 polls, said the PPP is not built on personalities but on policies “all designed to create a better life for our people, and forge racial, ethnic and class unity. I remain committed to these policies and causes and will continue to struggle with the Party to achieve them.”
He added that he was “absolutely humbled at the over-whelming confidence which the Guyanese people have continued to place in me and I remain eternally grateful for their continued support.”