Jagdeo to be Opposition leader – says Rohee

Jagdeo to be Opposition leader – says Rohee

June 30, 2015 | By | PPP completes 32-member parliamentary list Rohee
Former President Bharrat Jagdeo

Bharrat Jagdeo

After weeks of suspense, the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) has finally selected its 32 members of Parliament. One of them will be Deputy Speaker for the eleventh parliament, at a time when there was much doubt over whether Guyana would even have an opposition presence in parliament.

The PPP/C has however maintained its silence over the future of former President Donald Ramotar, with former President Bharrat Jagdeo, who has been widely rumored to have been selected as Leader of the Opposition, being tipped by General Secretary of the PPP/C Clement Rohee as a front runner for the post of Opposition Leader.

During the PPP/C weekly press conference yesterday, Rohee was asked for an update on the party’s list of parliamentary members. However the General Secretary refused to divulge specifics, despite a recent Guyana article appearing in the media during which Rohee appeared as the interviewee; in the interview Rohee  appeared to lend credence to the rumors of Jagdeo’s return to parliament as Opposition Leader.

During the interview, Rohee had affirmed that Jagdeo was a clear front runner for the Opposition leader post and based on the “overwhelming” support that the former President had enjoyed on the campaign trail, he was more of an asset than a liability.

Asked whether Jagdeo was not a bad selection for the PPP/C, given the widespread belief that the party lost the 2015 National and Regional elections due to Jagdeo’s legacy while in office and his campaign utterances, Rohee had rejected that vociferously.

“I reject that outright. I believe Mr. Jagdeo is more a positive than a negative within the party and outside the party and in the country as a whole.”

Yesterday Rohee took a more sedate approach to the question of Jagdeo’s selection as opposition leader when asked directly, but he did stand by his words in the article.
“I could confirm that I gave the interview to the correspondent and I could confirm that what is in the article is what I said,” Rohee said yesterday.

Pressed to confirm officially whether Jagdeo was indeed the anointed Opposition leader, Rohee only affirmed that the nation must “wait and see.”
“I have said time and time again, let’s wait and see, until the entry of the PPP/C into Parliament and then everything will be revealed. I do not want to reveal, here and now, the total package.”
“We have to present thirty-two Members of Parliament, one of which is the ‘primus inter pares’ (first among equals) Leader of the Opposition, one of them will be identified as the Chief Whip and if it comes to that, one could be the Deputy Speaker.”Rohee’s refusal to divulge any information would serve to keep the PPP/C party supporters on their toes. When reminded of the Party’s responsibility to keep its supporters updated on who will lead the parliamentary list, Rohee intimated that “they knew.”

Jagdeo, who served as President of Guyana from 1999-2011, played a prominent role on the 2015 National and Regional Elections campaign trail for the PPP/C, but his bombastic and sometimes controversial speeches landed him in hot water when at a commemoration ceremony for late President Dr. Cheddi Jagan on March 8 at Babu Jaan, he made a speech that caused a public outcry and was cited by the newly convened Media Monitoring Unit (MMU) as being an obvious case of racial mobilization.

Chartered Accountant and Government Auditor, Christopher Ram, subsequently filed criminal charges against the former Head of State over the matter, forcing Jagdeo to appear in the Whim Magistrate’s Court on May 25, last, to answer a charge of making racially divisive statements in contravention of section 139 D of the representation of the people’s act.

Under the Act, if found guilty, the former President faces a fine of $100,000 and two years’ imprisonment. When reminded of the stipulation that a prospective Member of Parliament could not enter Parliament if convicted of an offence Rohee denied that such a stipulation existed.
Asked again, if given his years spent in the National Assembly as a Member of Parliament, whether he was aware of the conviction clause, Rohee’s response was to have the stipulation published by the official means.

Under Title 9, Chapter 1:01, Section 227 of Guyana’s constitution refers to penalties prescribed to parliamentarians for racially divisive charges and convictions, reads as follows, “Notwithstanding any provision of this constitution relating to the making of appointments to, removal of persons from, the vacation of, any office, Parliament may provide for the imposition of disqualification for any office prescribed by parliament on any person convicted by a court of an offence relating to the excitement or ill-will against any person or class of persons on the ground of his or her or their race.”

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