Given that fresh general elections will have to be called within the next three months following the passing of a motion of no-confidence against the government, Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo said last evening that the process to select the PPP/C’s presidential candidate may now have to be fast-tracked.
“We probably will have to accelerate this process but I don’t want to speak much about that at this point in time because we have to deal with this situation. It’s unprecedented in our country and both sides have to display maturity in addressing it,” Jagdeo told reporters moments after APNU+AFC MP Charrandass Persaud voted for the opposition motion of no-confidence.
Jagdeo after expressing surprise at the success of the motion filed in his name last month, said that discussions on the party’s presidential candidate will begin on Thursday.
He did not definitively say if the candidate will be named before the end of the year as was originally anticipated.
Sources say that those being considered include Opposition Chief Whip and PPP executive member Gail Teixeira, former Attorney General Anil Nandlall, former Housing Minister Irfaan Ali and Dr. Frank Anthony.
Former parliamentarian Charles Ramson Jr was criticised by some in the party for publicly announcing his interest in being the party’s presidential candidate. He however did not back down and has expressed this intention on several occasions.
Asked last night for a reaction to the passage of the landmark motion, Jagdeo said he reminded that “We’ve (the opposition have) been making a pledge for people to vote their conscience and one Member of Parliament voted his conscience…We had hoped that someone or a number of people would but we couldn’t say that we were expecting a particular individual.”
Jagdeo denied that Persaud’s vote was bought. “No, why would you even ask that?” he said in responding to the question.
Told that this is what is being said in the public domain, he responded “APNU will probably say that. Are you accusing him of …?” and later stressed that the vote was not bought. “We were hoping that we would get someone or two persons to vote conscience. I myself was a bit surprised about the arrangement that he voted but I suspect that he comes from the sugar belt too and that is what I am thinking…and [also] living in that [sugar] community, he probably saw the hardships.”
Around 7,000 sugar workers have been laid off by the government as it restructures the industry.
Jagdeo had issued the call to government MPs on Monday to vote their conscience.
“There are many of them that express displeasure about the state of affairs within that camp and about the policies they are pursuing…[We hope] that some of them will grow a conscience and translate what they say privately into a vote and we hope that that will happen because it wouldn’t mean an act of betrayal, it would be an act of patriotism,” Jagdeo had said.
Government had repeatedly expressed confidence that the motion would be defeated as it was a certainty that all of its 33 members would vote against it.
“Jagdeo now seeks to lump this motion – which amounts to nothing more than a political bluff – onto the pile. Now that the real motive of this desperate act is being exposed, Jagdeo is seeking to back away but as we had called for before – BRING IT ON! We in the Coalition Government are ready and willing to defend our record” Prime Minister and leader of government business, Moses Nagamootoo said on Monday in a statement.
In giving a message to supporters on both sides, Jagdeo reminded that what has occurred is an end result of a feature enshrined in the constitution. “It fact it was there since Forbes Burnham was president and that feature of the Constitution was used today in a democratic setting and the House voted in a particular way, so we all have to respect our Constitution and the Democratic process.”