PPP presidential candidates should be allowed to canvass for support

Dear Editor,

Reference is made to the news item captioned `PPP to name presidential candidate before local govt polls’ (SN Jul 19). It is noted that voting will be by secret ballot. I traveled around Guyana late last month and this month querying peoples’ choice for the PPP Presidential nominee and the process to be used to select him or her. There is broad agreement on the two main points in your news story.

Almost everyone feels the selection should be done sooner rather than later (by year end) so that the candidate will have enough time before the general elections (mid 2020) to build support. And almost everyone said voting should be by secret ballot. While the election for the nominee will take place within the 35-member Central Committee, some supporters feel the process should involve all party members or be done at the party’s convention by delegates.

However, members and supporters have indicated they trust the leadership and will leave the selection process to it. The party leadership has announced that the selection of the nominee will be done by tradition. Regardless of how the nominee is selected, the process should be democratic, open and free. Prospective candidates should be allowed to canvass for support.

With Opposition Leader Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo knocked off the ballot by the Caribbean Court of Justice, the PPP is experiencing a serious challenge in selecting a Presidential nominee. There is an internal struggle to select the candidate with no consensus on one individual.

With regards to who should be the Presidential nominee, several names (like Charles Ramson Jr, Priya Manickchand, Gail Teixeira, Dr. Vindhya Persaud, Shyam Nokta, Donald Ramotar, Clement Rohee, among others) are mentioned in the public domain. But they lack political traction among the party’s rank and file. Only three potential candidates have significant support among the party membership and supporters: Irfaan Ali, Dr. Frank Anthony, and Anil Nandlall. But support in the 35-member Central Committee is divided among the three making it a challenge to choose one or an outside consensus candidate.  Some supporters feel if there is no agreement, the candidate could come from the Civic component or someone outside of the party. This is extremely unlikely.

Yours faithfully,

Dr. Vishnu Bisram

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