Last Updated on Thursday, 20 August 2020, 9:30 by Writer
The People’s Progressive Party (PPP) on Wednesday cut back on the ‘old guard’ faces to become parliamentarians, a day after A Partnership for National Unity+Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) also announced that it has dropped several of its older seasoned politicians from its parliamentary line-up.
Notably absent from the PPP’s line-up are Neendkumar, Indra Chandrapal and Clement Rohee who are all considered Cheddi and Janet Jagan-era politicians. Another Jagan-era politician, Komal Chand, of the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union, passed away earlier this year in Cuba where he had sought medical treatment.
Surviving from that era are Health Minister Dr Frank Anthony, former Health Minister Dr Bheri Ramsarran and Minister of Parliamentary Affairs and Governance Gail Teixeira. Dharamkumar Seeraj of the Rice Producers Association is also back in the House among the PPP’s 33 parliamentarians.
“Our 2020 Parliamentary team demonstrates that the PPP/C is truly a national party representing the diversity of Guyana, with all ethnic groups, geographic regions and a broad range of skills and knowledge of our country represented,” the PPP said, adding that “the 2020 team of 33 is comprised of new, young and seasoned leaders.”
The PPP also did not pick Geologist Odinga Lumumba, Ganga Persaud, and Africo Selman, a one-time PNCR member, Harry Gill and Cornel Damon to return to the 65-seat Chamber.
Heading the list of new parliamentary faces is Prime Minister Mark Phillips, a newcomer to politics in Guyana, who was President Irfaan Ali’s running mate in the general elections.
Other newcomers to parliamentary life are Public Service Minister Sonia Parag, Junior Public Works Minister Deodat Indar, Foreign Affairs Minister Hugh Todd, Junior Housing Minister Susan Rodrigues, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office Kwame McCoy, Attorney-at-Law Sanjeev Datadin, General Secretary of the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union Seepaul Narine, Junior Minister of Local Government Anand Persaud, Dr Tandika Smith and Lee Gendre Hakim Williams. Attorney-at-Law Oneidge Waldron, as Minister of Tourism, will be a non-voting House member.
Labour Minister Joseph Hamilton formerly served as a parliamentarian for the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) and later as Parliamentary Secretary at the Ministry of Health under the 2011-2015 PPP administration.
Minister of Home Affairs Robeson Benn will also be a non-voting member of the National Assembly as he is classified as a technocrat.
The PPP said it also intends to name parliamentary secretaries to sit in the National Assembly, in keeping with the constitutional provisions, in the near future.
The PPP list somewhat mirrors changes in the parliamentarians that the opposition A Partnership for National Unity+Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) with the dropping of long-serving members like People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) General Secretary Amna Ally, PNCR Chairman Volda Lawrence, Dr George Norton, Attorney-at-Law Basil Williams, Ronald Bulkan as well as the AFC’s Moses Nagamootoo.
APNU and AFC have separately touted their parliamentarians as reflective of youth and national diversity. Seemingly leading the APNU+AFC team in the House is Mr Joseph Harmon, a close ally and confidante of Mr David Granger. One day after the PPP was declared the winner of the general and regional elections Mr Harmon made an early disclosure that the coalition’s team would be made up of young and aggressive new leaders. “During the past campaign that we had, we have discovered, new leadership has emerged in our party and in our coalition, young bright people who would not sit down and accept nonsense,” he has said.