The debate surrounding the posturing of Dr Roopnaraine is a source of great concern for the WPA

Dear Editor,

In response to WPA’s criticisms of the high-handed manner in which WPA Executive Member David Hinds was booted out of the pages of the state-owned Guyana Chronicle as a fifth-columnist, a picture of President David Granger and WPA’s co-leader Rupert Roopnaraine embracing each other graced the pages of the Chronicle, along with a plea by Roopnaraine for the WPA to remain within the APNU. It was obvious that the Chronicle’s picture was worth a thousand words.

The article featured Roopnaraine’s appeal to the WPA not to break away from the APNU and the governing coalition of the APNU+AFC. The WPA is an integral part of the APNU. It is interesting to note that presidential candidate Granger in the 2015 elections campaigned with a picture of Moses Nagamootoo and himself as a symbol of racial unity. What exactly was the picture of the President and Roopnaraine projecting in the current situation?

After running with David Granger in the 2011 elections, Roopnaraine and the WPA cleared the way for Moses Nagamootoo to become the Prime Minister in 2015. At the press conference announcing the signing of the Cummingsburg Accord, when asked by a reporter if the WPA was not concerned that it had lost its place and was now a junior partner, Tacuma Ogunseye responded that for the WPA, the national interest was more important than the party’s interest, and that was a price that the WPA was willing to pay to advance the country.

As was pointed out in Ogunseye’s account of events in relation to the 2011 elections, the PNCR wanted an Indian prime ministerial candidate to run with presidential candidate Granger. This was to symbolize racial outreach within the APNU platform. The 2015 inclusion of AFC cast Nagamootoo to the forefront.  Campaign posters portrayed the new faces of racial unity as Granger and Nagamootoo.  Roopnaraine had been displaced as the top figure in this role. Nevertheless, Roopnaraine enjoyed a very close relationship with President Granger, one that had deepened during the 2011 period and beyond.

The abrupt termination of the Walter Rodney Commission of Inquiry (WRCoI) posed a serious challenge to the WPA very early in the life of the new government. Roopnaraine’s silence on this matter exposed the WPA to ridicule both at home and abroad. At the same time, it proved to President Granger that he could rely on Dr Roopnaraine to subvert the will of the WPA.

The manner in which Dr Roopnaraine was assigned the Ministry of Education without any consultations whatsoever with the WPA revealed a single-mindedness of President Granger in party politics. Roopnaraine’s assignment as Education Minister was arbitrarily decided. His subsequent removal from the ministry and reassignment to another ministry in the most bizarre of manners displayed a contempt for both Dr Roopnaraine and the WPA that would have made the Mona Lisa weep.

The WPA has to be faulted for concealing the true nature of its relationship with its publicly accepted leader, Dr Rupert Roopnaraine. There have been legitimate differences regarding strategy and tactics in the political arena within the party, and some of these challenges have been exacerbated with the coming to power of the coalition. Added to all of this is the issue of Dr Roopnaraine’s health, which has dramatically complicated these matters. The volatile mix of political and health issues has led to an intolerable situation in which one cannot be discerned from the other. It is now obvious that Dr Roopnaraine’s health issues are being manipulated for political purposes. While there is a genuine concern by the President for the welfare of Dr Roopnaraine, it obscures the fact that it has also allowed for the manipulation of Roopnaraine to the disadvantage of the WPA. This state of affairs has now reached a breaking point.

The debate surrounding the posturing of Roopnaraine is now a source of great concern for the WPA. There is an obvious and glaring problem when Tacuma Ogunseye has put the possibility of the WPA withdrawing from the APNU coalition if it is not treated with some respect, only to be contradicted by Roopnaraine. There was no explanation whatsoever on the part of Dr Roopnaraine on why the WPA must be treated in such a disgraceful manner and remain within APNU.

The Chronicle picture portrays a message of racial unity, disregarding three years of non-consultation with the WPA on serious matter of government policies, placing it in a delicate position were it to attempt to discipline Roopnaraine. Any attempt by the WPA to deal with Dr Roopnaraine’s misguided role as it affects the well-being of the WPA may be open to exploitation by opponents of the WPA. These opponents will seek to portray it as an attempt by the African members of the party to rid itself of one of its Indian leaders, a possibility that has forced the WPA to tread carefully on this matter. But failure to resolve this issue will only continue to do even more damage to the WPA. The party will have to trust the public’s opinion as to whether it has acted correctly on this matter and will have to deal with it in a transparent manner so that the right image can be projected.

Yours faithfully,

Rohit Kanhai

Member of WPAOA

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