by Zena Henry
Former President Bharrat Jagdeo was quite clear that he was done with active political life and was especially not interested in a third term as president of Guyana.
However, this decision could change just as the former Head of State decided to be an item on the People’s Progressive Party’s (PPP) list of candidates for next Monday’s General and Regional Elections.
This is according to the party’s General Secretary Clement Rohee when he hosted his weekly press conference at Robb Street on Monday May 4.
With the pending court ruling on whether the constitution could have been amended to provide for term-limits , Rohee was asked whether Guyana could expect to see Jagdeo as president anytime in the near future if the court should rule in his favour.
The General Secretary responded by saying that that would be a decision only Jagdeo could make. “It is Jagdeo himself who will have to make that decision.” Rohee continued however that it would be the former State head to make the decision, in the same way he took the decision to return as a member on his party’s candidate list after being asked to,” he said.
“It is true that he (Jagdeo) said that he wasn’t going on the list, but after having so many people, thousands of people come to him to say man BJ (Bharrat Jagdeo), we want to see you on the list. We think it will help, we think it will enhance… What you want me to do?” he questioned.
The current legislation prevents any president from being in office for more than two terms. However a Georgetown resident took this issue to the High Court challenging the constitutionality of the two- term limit.
Chief Justice Ian Chang is set to rule on the matter in the coming days.
If it favours Jagdeo and he is again requested to go back on his words, and is asked this time to be President, Rohee left what could happen to be seen in the future. “When we reach that bridge we will cross it,” he said.
The former president is already a favourite from the PPP camp. In fact, he is being accused of overshadowing the party’s Presidential and Prime Ministerial candidates, holding more press conferences and being prominently portrayed in party campaign ads among other things.
Rohee recused himself from any talk of overshadowing, but it is widely believed that the former president returned as the fuel for the campaign flame.
Opposition members are keeping vigilant however, especially now, keeping an eye on the upcoming court matter. They have not supported an extension of time on the presidency limit.
It is possible however, for Jagdeo to again become president if the PPP regains power at the 2015 election.
The presidential candidate Donald Ramotar would be president if they won, but should he become sick or decide to step down, noting too, his shortened term in a disastrous Tenth Parliament, then his Prime Minister, political newcomer, Elizabeth Harper would have to assume the vacant post.
However, legally, Harper can be sworn in as President and step down returning to her PM post; again leaving the President’s chair open with space for the “liked” and experienced Jagdeo to continue the party’s work in government.
This would be much like what occurred in 1999 when former President Janet Jagan stepped down from the presidency which was then handed over to Prime Minister Samuel Hinds who later stepped down also, returning to his PM post and making room for Jagdeo who commenced his first of two terms as President of Guyana.
Since Jagdeo is a feature on the party’s candidate list the door is also open for him to become a Member of Parliament.
He has previously stated that he was not interested in any constitutional post. Jagdeo has been named by Ramotar to chair a National Economic Council.