In the wake of legal and political maneuvers for Former President Bharrat Jagdeo to play a leading role on the People’s Progressive Party’s slate for the May 11 general and regional elections, that incumbent organization Thursday night announced its full endorsement of Donald Ramotar as presidential candidate.
“The meeting unanimously endorsed the President Donald Ramotar as the Party’s Presidential Candidate,” the party said in a statement.
The PPP added that during the Central Committee meeting, “Presentations were made by the Party’s General Secretary Mr. Clement Rohee and President Donald Ramotar who thanked the Central Committee for the confidence reposed in him as the Party’s Presidential Candidate and pledged his continuing efforts to work relentlessly to ensure an overwhelming victory.”
This pronouncement by the Central Committee appears to be an attempt to put to rest suggestions and aspirations that legal hurdles should be cleared for Jagdeo to be the Presidential or Prime Ministerial candidate. The constitution says that for someone to become Prime Minister, he or she must be eligible to become President.
The latest being a reported petition by more than 6,000 PPP supporters in East Berbice for Jagdeo to be their party’s Prime Ministerial candidate with responsibility for Agriculture and Natural Resources.
Rohee told Demerara Waves on Wednesday that he was unaware of such a petition. “II am not aware of anything like that,” he said, adding that he did not know of lobbying in favour of Jagdeo. “Not to my knowledge.”
Prior to the surfacing of that document, which has not been authenticated, a private citizen, Cedric Richardson, hired a battery of lawyers to challenge the constitutionality of the two-term presidential limit. He wants the Constitutional Court to find that the amendment in 2001 was unconstitutional because it should have been done by a referendum rather than a two-thirds majority of the members of the National Assembly. In court documents seen by Demerara Waves Online News, Richardson names Jagdeo as an example whom he is being prevented from voting for in violation of his democratic right.
Jagdeo, directly and through Head of the Presidential Secretariat Dr. Roger Luncheon, has repeatedly ruled out being interested in holding constitutional office again.
Former Chairman of the Constitutional Reform Commission, Senior Counsel Ralph Ramkarran has said in his weekly column that Richardson’s challenge is on very weak grounds. ““It is not known what arguments the lawyers have in mind, but on the surface and at first glance the case has no merit whatsoever. The only constitutional right an elector has is to vote. There is no right to vote for a specific person. If the two-term limit is to be challenged, it is Dr. Jagdeo who must do so. And Article 90 of the Constitution, which was amended to provide for the two-term limit, is amendable by a two-thirds majority. A referendum is not required. What legal or intellectual circumlocution (‘twaddle’) is going to be deployed to get around the plain language of the Constitution is anyone’s guess,” said Ramkarran.
According to the PPP, the Central Committee meeting assessed the current political situation and came up with ways of positioning the party to win an absolute majority in the upcoming national and regional elections.
“Much discussions centered on ensuring that the party’s elections machinery is well oiled to ensure that the party wins a resounding victory at the May 11elections,” added the party in a statement.
The PPP said its Central Committee expressed satisfaction with the work done by party structures on the ground to ensure that eligible voters are on the List.
According to the party, the Central Committee heard and analysed reports from Party bodies on the ground and endorsed the strategies and approaches taken to ensure maximum turnout of party members and supporters on polling day.
The meeting, according to the PPP, also came up with strategies to reach out to voters right across the political and ethnic spectrum and expressed full confidence in the Party’s mobilization capacity to bring home a convincing victory in the upcoming elections.
The Party said it was highly encouraged by the political goodwill and expressions and pledges it has been receiving both nationally and from the diaspora since the announcement of the date of elections.