Top front-runners for the People’s Progressive Party’s (PPP) presidential candidacy – lawyer Anil Nandlall and Dr. Frank Anthony – will Saturday hold sway on whether they would stay in the race and risk their party being defeated at the next general elections with Irfan Ali at the helm, party insiders said.
The top party executives said either Nandlall or Anthony should pull out of the contest and throw his support behind the other to ensure that Ali, who is being backed by party General Secretary Bharrat Jagdeo, is defeated.
“The situation is fluid,” a long-standing executive member of the PPP told Demerara Waves Online News on condition of strict anonymity.
With Anthony already having at least 12 solid votes from among the 35-member Central Committee, one party official said it would be easier for the former Minister of Culture, Youth and Sport to pull out and endorse Nandlall, a former Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs.
Sources said Nandlall and Anthony have been lobbied to exit the race, but so far neither of them has budged and that could see Ali winning the majority of votes and leaving the party practically in the hands of Jagdeo. “Jagdeo is a local version of [Russian President Vladimir] Putin because he wants to run the country with a face as a front through someone he has full confidence in,” the source said.
Another source said an Irfan Ali presidential candidacy would also be a soft target for A Partnership for National Unity+Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) on the election campaign trail.
“Ali would effectively be Jagdeo’s proxy or surrogate and the PNC/APNU, AFC, and this is playing right into the hands of the PNC,” the source said. Ali is facing serious scrutiny about whether his academic qualifications are authentic. While Ali had attended the University of Guyana none of his credentials tendered includes even a diploma from that institution.
Earlier this week, the High Court temporarily blocked the Magistrates Court from hearing several alleged fraudulent land sales to colleague cabinet members and other senior officials in the public and private sector totalling GYD$174 million.
Jagdeo, who is also the opposition leader, has already come out swinging against the governing coalition, saying that criminal charges filed against Ali and Nandlall were politically trumped up and that anyone the PPP puts forward was likely to face a similar fate. Nandlall is accused of stealing several law books, property of the Government of Guyana while he was Attorney General.
Other sources closely associated with the PPP are also not optimistic about Ali winning Saturday’s vote, but credited Ali with “getting things done” as Minister of Housing, Water and Tourism.
Dr. Vindhya Persaud and Gail Teixeira are expected to pull out of contest on Saturday. Teixeira and Roger Luncheon are said to be very much pro-Jagdeo and by extension pro-Ali.