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The New Movement executives resign over infighting amid threat of legal action as party endorses PPP; key financier backs Asha Kissoon

Last Updated on Thursday, 12 November 2020, 23:03 by Denis Chabrol

The New Movement (TNM) political party on Thursday appeared to have collapsed with the resignation of six executive members over claims of undemocratic decision-making and a mixture of political and business interests in a privately-owned oil sector company.

But TNM Presidential candidate and co-founder, Dr. Asha Kissoon denied that her party has become closely aligned with the governing People’s Progressive Party (PPP) since it was on August 2, 2020 declared the winner of the March 2, 2020 general and regional elections.

“The New Movement is not compromised by the PPP. We had stated clearly from the beginning that we are going to work with whichever government that is elected, be it APNU (A Partnership for National Unity) or PPP. It so  happened that the PPP is in government right now and they have pledged for inclusive governance and we have been working alongside them,” Dr. Kissoon told News-Talk Radio Guyana 103.1 FM/ Demerara Waves Online News.  She noted that TNM members are sitting on state boards and her party has proposed projects to the government.

Those who resigned are Latchman Dindiyal, Andrew Hutson, Brijraj Ramsaroop, Dr. Josh Kanhai, Dr, Andrew Hutson and Dr. Gerald Forde.

Dr. Kanhai, who was the TNM’s General Secretary,  said he decided to resign from that fledgling party because its “pure and moral ideas” have since vanished after the general and regional elections. He said he was forced to resign also because an issue could not have been resolved despite efforts to towards peaceful negotiations. “The issue stemmed from Ms. Kissoon trying to besmirch the character of several executive members. We confronted her about it; it still continued. She made an apology;  it was not sincere because she went behind our backs again, we confronted her,” he said.

Dr. Kanhai said after Dr. Kissoon was about to be suspended based on a 6-1 vote, businessman Dr. Turhane Doerga of GuyEnergy, regarded as the sole financier of that party, intervened, backed her and took control of TNM.  Dr. Kanhai said Drs. Kissoon and Doerga said they were the trustees and, in retaliation, suspended him and informed A New and United Guyana (ANUG) and Liberty and Justice Party (LJP) which are part of the joinder system.

Dr. Kanhai said the controversy deepened on Wednesday at a meeting where Dr. Doerga wielded his power as the major backer. “We had a meeting yesterday where Dr. Doerga blatantly stated that because he is the sole financier of the party he will and he alone will make the decisions for the party. We made it clear to him that it’s either he goes or we go,” said Dr. Kanhai, adding that Drs. Doerga and Kissoon threatened to seek legal assistance. “We have all the evidence to challenge them in court. We lifted our heads high and we told them that we will be resigning,” he said.

Dr. Kissoon accused those now former members of the executive of concocting allegations against her and violating procedures. False allegations without proof were put against me,and according to our code of conduct,we do not expel members simply by “hear say” deeming the vote void. We have an order in which we carry out these matters,and they skipped all the necessary steps,the actions were a clear and malicious attempt by outside forces to hurt the party and push diabolical agendas,” she said.

In his resignation, Dr. Gerald Forde recalled the TNM being established to create a minority government by controlling the balance of power and being an effective voice of the people. However, he said the TNM soon became undemocratic and was being influenced by the PPP. ” This is largely due to faction formation, character assassination within the leadership of the movement, undemocratic principles by Dr. Kissoon and Doerga along with mixing private and selfish interest with national politics (Guyenergy). Some leaders of the political party have aligned too closely to the ruling PPP(post election) and has caused  corruption of the internal politics of The New Movement with members losing the ability to think and act critically and independently for fear of souring their relationships,” said Dr. Forde.

Dr. Hutson said he resigned from TNM because he and other executive members failed to find common ground to deal with disagreements, despite weeks of negotiations. “We were not able to get the work for the people done because there were issues in leadership styles between members of the exec and the projects they were pursuing and because of these conflicts about how things should go… We stumbled into a place of stasis and weren’t getting past it,” he told News-Talk Radio Guyana 103.1 FM/ Demerara Waves Online News.

For his part, Dr. Doerga praised Dr. Kissoon who called on the trustees ,financiers , donors  and other members and silent members who overturned a decision to remove her on the grounds that it was “illegal” and “disorderly.” “Dr . Kissoon relentlessly is doing all she can to achieve the goals TNM had set out however and apparently the group of Dr. Ford, Josh Kanhai and 4 others of which 2 of them were appointed by them as “executives” felt that they should be accommodated in all ways and forms,” Dr. Doerga told News-Talk Radio Guyana/ Demerara Waves Online News.

On the relationship between his company, GuyEnergy, and TNM, he said his business had no commitment to TNM except that Dr. Kissoon was appreciated for her efforts to ensure that all the projects meet the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals by inviting her to sit on the company’s Board. Dr. Doerga said Drs. Forde and Kanhai were displeased at Dr. Kissoon’s appointment to two State boards as they had applied in writing to be on those governing bodies.

Dr. Kissoon gave a slightly different account of how she became a member of GuyEnergy, saying that she applied for the post. “GuyEnergy has nothing to do with TNM, so no,it is not a conflict of interest. It’s an international organization who is headed by local and overseas partners. I was not appointed by Dr Doerga as they falsely claim, I was selected by a board of directors after applying for a job,” she said.

She denied that Ms. Doerga was wielding influence because he holds the purse string. “The claims that one of our financiers is pushing his own positions is false, he has simply been an advisor and took a back role throughout.”

In a separate comment, TNM suggested that the six men who resigned from the party, had hidden motives. That party also praised the PPP for its record in office so far. “TNM is in full support of the ruling party as they have done more in 3 months than Granger regime has done in 6 years.  Contrary to Gerald’s wishes to share the corn with his PNC associates , it’s TNM position that you can’t share any corn with (alleged) fraudsters and (alleged) criminals .