Opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP) presidential candidate hopeful, Charles Ramson and his party’s General Secretary, Bharrat Jagdeo on Saturday appeared to be on the same page about the need for young people to have a greater say.
“I do want to say this about my generation … if you invite our generation into the process and court our support then you are going to have to be prepared to accept that we are going to be bringing fresh ideas, beliefs and way of doing things too. We respect customs but we also stand firmly for freedom, justice, openness, and fairness,” Ramson said in a Facebook post.
PPP insiders said Ramson’s announcement was frowned upon by several persons at the PPP’s Executive Committee meeting that was held on Friday.
Ramson, said to be in his mid 30s, has been seen quite often in Jagdeo’s circle in contrast to the ‘old guard’ group made up of Donald Ramotar, Clement Rohee, Indra Chandarpal, Hydar Ally, Frank Anthony and Dharamkumar Seeraj.
Ramson’s stance came just days after Jagdeo reiterated the need for older party comrades to make way for younger
persons to emerge. “We have to create more space for young people in the party. I don’t have a problem with younger comrades. A lot of the older comrades still play a valuable, useful role. There is nothing about moving people out of the party. There is room for young and old, but people sometimes have to shift down a bit,” the former Guyanese leader said a day after the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) ruled that a two-term presidential limits are constitutional.
After Janet Jagan resigned in 1999, Jagdeo was elevated to the presidency when he was 35 years old and was twice elected in 2006 and 2011. He is 54 years old. He stressed that a significant number of PPP government officials had been young people and “I want to see the same thing happening for the party”.
Other names being touted as PPP presidential candidate hopefuls include 45-year old Anil Nandlall who has been the legal backbone of his party, filing numerous constitutional challenges and defending several party supporters against criminal charges. Also being floated periodically as a likely pick is Dr. Frank Anthony, said to be in his late 40s or early 50s.
Nandlall straddles both the Jagdeo-led new guard and the old guard.
Ramson on Saturday sought to allay fears that he was upset with Jagdeo for seemingly criticising him for announcing his availability for the PPP’s presidential candidacy and at the same time beam a conciliatory tone. “I am not going to get into the tit for tat with Jagdeo because this tit for tat politics is destroying Guyana and it must change so the political parties have to change the way they do things,” said Ramson, a British-trained Attorney-at-Law.
On Thursday, Jagdeo described Ramson’s announcement in sections of the media as “a departure from that approach” in which nominees are discussed and voted on by the 35-member Central Committee.
Ramson also seized the opportunity to send a clear message that he is a disciplined member of that democratic centralist party in which in which key decisions are made by the hierarchy and are final and binding on all members. “I will also not get into this tit for tat with Jagdeo because I respect my political party and all of our members so I will never disrespect any member in public like that since good leadership demands that you protect the people you lead,” he said.
Claiming that he was unaware of a custom in the PPP during his 10-year old association with the PPP, Ramson assured that his sole objective was for the PPP to win the 2020 elections. “But I am responding because I want people to know that I am scared of no man … I only fear God. We are all on the same team seeking to obtain the same objective which ultimately is to change the lives of Guyanese for the better and since I believe that the programme of the PPP is better than that of any other party my objective is to get the PPP back into power,” he said.
He said he recalled persons make public announcements before going through a nomination process for the 2015 election and only recently one potential contestant made comments in the newspapers.