Leader of the Alliance For Change (AFC), Khemraj Ramjattan on Monday hailed the Moses Nagamootoo- Nigel Hughes ticket for the next elections as the right blend of brilliance, experience, representation and integrity but already he has begun fending off criticisms.
Ramjattan expressed confidence that that combination would attract sufficient Guyanese support and cash at home and in the Diaspora to catapult his party into power at polls widely expected before year-end or early next year. “They bring that which it will take to win an election as two top candidates. Knowing the national scene and knowing those that have the heart to go do it- organize people around them, organize finances around them with their intellectual quality, quality of integrity and I also feel that the Alliance For Change membership and supporters are going to rally around the two of them,” he told Demerara Waves Online News.
The AFC will formally ratify Ramjattan’s choice at its general members conference slated for next month.
Describing Nagamootoo and Hughes as the “two most powerful players,” he said they would be encircled by an attractive team that would mobilize supporters and take on the incumbent People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPPC).
The AFC Leader again conceded that the party had erred by not making public that Hughes was the Corporate Secretary for Amaila Falls Hydropower Project- a planned facility that his party had criticized. Ramjattan recalled that Hughes had recused himself from AFC’s decision-making on the project. The party leader said a Code of Conduct has been since crafted to provide for prior public disclosure whenever there are instances of conflict of interest. “He brings a tremendous measure of integrity with him and though the PPP is going to jump on his back…,” added Ramjattan.
On the issue of Hughes being a lawyer for the Foreman of a jury in a trial of murder-accused in the Lusignan Massacre, the AFC Leader argued that lawyers were free to establish relationships with clients. Ramjattan noted that one of the persons, who had confessed to being present at the Bartica, Lusignan and Lindo Creek massacres that together claimed 33 lives but he was not prosecuted.
That party’s political leader countered his critics by saying that Hughes, a well-qualified person, brings to the table a number of advantages- a major human rights and Indigenous rights lawyer. Hughes has represented several ordinary persons in connection with police torture and brutality. “Why be a crab-in-a-barrel to pull him down and say he brings all these minuses. I feel he is a hero and a champion of the Guyanese political community now and should take the process forward and we shouldn’t just drag him down with these instances that he had in the recent past,” he added.
On Nagamootoo’s presidential candidacy, he said that veteran politician has cabinet experience that would be so vital in guiding the party in government.
The incumbent PPP has in the past accused him of voting in favour of the Former President’s Benefits Bill in the House while he was a government lawmaker but criticized the same law when he joined the AFC’s ranks.
PPP General Secretary, Clement Rohee earlier Monday signaled that his party would open a cupboard of “skeletons” against Nagamootoo, a former long-serving PPP executive member. “We got so much things on Mr Nagamootoo. A lot of things you could talk about,” said Rohee.
When told that Nagamootoo is regarded in some circles as being responsible for the PPP losing its one-seat majority at the 2011 general and regional elections, Rohee sought to make light work of that assertion. “Who said that?… That’s what they say. We didn’t say that. They are giving him credence that he is the man that did this, that he is the man that did that but we didn’t say that,” added the PPP’s General Secretary.
The PPP has publicly attributed its declined electoral fortunes to the party losing touch with the grassroots base, the emergence of a young generation that has not experienced living under the dictatorship of the People’s National Congress (PNC) from 1964 to 1992, apathy and over-confidence.