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Ramotar justifies selecting persons with ‘baggage’ to become PPP parliamentarians

Former President Donald Ramotar at Wednesday’s news conference.

Former President Donald Ramotar on Wednesday defended the decision by his People’s Progressive Party (PPP) to send several persons with sullied images to the National Assembly.

“When they were chosen on the list, these things were not unknown and the party decided to put them on the list to go into the National Assembly so very, very clearly a lot of the charges, a lot of the attacks were not proven,” he said.

He said there was a “desperate attempt” to target and bring down then PPP ministers. “I don’t think we can always be guided  by these things that have been totally not proven,” he said.

Asked for his opinions on the candidates selected to become MPs, Ramotar opted to shelter under the rubric of party discipline that disallows him from publicly criticizing members and sticking with collective responsibility and decision-making within the party.

Quizzed on how he saw those persons, regarded as blemished by some, would aid the party in regaining power, Ramotar did not rule out changes in the future. “As the situation unfolds, if there is need to make changes I think the party is capable of making changes if that becomes necessary,” he said.

Among those entering the National Assembly are former Public Service Minister Dr. Jennifer Westford and former Health Minister Dr. Bheri Ramsaran. She has been accused of purchasing and attempting to transfer several government vehicles to a number of persons. Just prior to the polls, the then PPP administration had caved into public pressure and relieved Ramsaran of ministerial duties for insulting and degrading remarks made to and about female rights activist Sherlena Nageer. Others, who have had their images bruised in the past by their own perceived or alleged actions are former President Bharrat Jagdeo and former Permanent Secretary of the Amerindian Affairs Ministry, Nigel Dharamlall.

Speaking at a news conference held on July 8, 2015 at the PPP’s headquarters, Freedom House, he said the party unanimously decided that former President Bharrat Jagdeo, as Opposition Leader, would be leading a group of “exceptionally capable young people” to represent Guyanese in the National Assembly.

“It was my personal view that the party should go into transition,” said Ramotar who practically led his party into a two-time defeat, one losing the parliamentary majority in 2011 and secondly losing altogether in 2015 to an opposition coalition.

Ramotar, however, maintained that the PPP was cheated at the last general elections held two months ago.

Although the PPP on Tuesday named former Agriculture Minister Dr. Leslie Ramsammy as one of the parliamentarians, Ramotar said he has since opted out because of poor health.

With regards to his future role in Guyanese politics, former President Ramotar highlighted that he was still part of the PPP’s leadership and that, while he would not be seeking office unless something dramatic happens in the future, he would continue to represent the interests of Guyanese. “I’m not going anywhere. I will continue to represent the people of Guyana,” he said.

PPPC Prime Ministerial candidate, Ambassador Elisabeth Harper, former Finance Minister Dr. Ashni Singh and former Foreign Affairs Minister Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett have publicly said they were unavailable  to sit in the legislature.