Last Updated on Friday, 31 March 2023, 19:15 by Denis Chabrol
The Leader of The New Movement (TNM) political party Dr Asha Kissoon on Friday sought to solidly guarantee that she would be truly an independent voice in the National Assembly as she prepares to take up her stint as she aims to see her see her party emerge as Guyana’s genuine third force.
“The truth is only time will show my commitment and dedication towards being independent. We did sign a memorandum of understanding committing to being independent from either of the larger parties, and for me to join either of them would not solve anything; we aim to stand out and be the voice of the persons who need a third force,” she told Demerara Waves Online News.
At the same time, she said “we are willing to work with government or the opposition for the betterment of the Guyanese people” based on issues.
Her comments came against the backdrop of lingering perceptions in some quarters, including the main opposition APNU+AFC coalition, that Mr Shuman was virtually a government lawmaker cloaked as an opposition. On many occasions, he had spoken in favour of and voted for government-sponsored legislation. She stayed clear of criticising Mr Shuman based on the structure of the memorandum of understanding among the the Liberty and Justice Party (LJP), A New and United Guyana (ANUG) and TNM, saying that “the way he chose to represent his party during his tenure, we have to respect that.”
Mr Shuman, who is Leader of the LJP, and ANUG co-founder Ralph Ramkarran were at a People’s Progressive Party (PPP) commemorative event at Babu Jaan, Port Mourant for that party’s co-founders Cheddi and Janet Jagan. During his feature address at that event, PPP General Secretary Bharrat Jagdeo recognised Mr Shuman and the fact that he was clad in a red shirt, that colour being the party’s.
At a news conference on Friday, Dr Kissoon said it was always her political ambition to make a difference and, although in the background, her party has been on outreaches to communities to glean concerns and would now be projecting itself with her entry to the 65-seat National Assembly.
Dr Kissoon indicated that TNM intended to fill that void left by the Alliance For Change (AFC) that eventually teamed up with the PNCR-led A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) and contested the 2020 general and regional elections. “The political landscape in Guyana has always been a polarised one, a two-party system, and I am here with the objective of letting the Guyanese people know that there is a third force; that this third force is representing persons who do not believe in the two-party system. Traditionally, the AFC started like this and they ended up joining APNU but we are not joining anybody. We are an independent opposition. ANUG, TNM, we are not joining anybody.
The TNM Leader plans to use her parliamentary tenure to push for transparency and all information would be shared with Guyanese. “I think it’s something that’s lacking right now where contracts are being offered. Allegedly nepotism is happening, where government officials are being named in scandals, where the oil money is allegedly being used how it’s supposed to be used,” the Cuban-trained medical doctor said.
Remarking on Mr Shuman’s tenure, Dr Kissoon said she would learn from “his positives and negatives” and use her party’s “big voice”. She did not rule out replacing Mr Shuman as Deputy Speaker if she is nominated.
Mr Shuman, who gave up his Canadians citizenship to contest the 2020 polls, on Friday completed 2.5 years as a parliamentarian under the joinder system among LJP, TNM and ANUG. Those parties contested the elections separately but after the declaration pooled their votes which secured for them one seat and they agreed to occupy it on a rotation basis.
ANUG won 2.313 votes, LJP 2,657 and TNM 244.
ANUG noted that Mr Ramkarran is no longer on its executive but he remains a “key” member in good standing. That party said Mr Ramkarran attended the PPP event in his private capacity as Dr Jagan was his close friend and mentor.
Meanwhile neither ANUG nor TNM would be contesting the June 12, 2023 Local Government Elections due to cash crunch and Dr Kissoon’s decision to maximise the impact of her parliamentary list.