Ramotar gets unanimous selection as PPP Presidential Candidate
… after Ramkarran, Teixeira, Rohee withdraw
Soviet-trained political scientist and economist, Donald Ramotar, was unanimously selected yesterday to lead the ruling People’s Progressive Party (PPP) in this year’s general elections.
“This consensual choice reflects the party’s leadership commitment to maintaining Party unity, continuing progress in Guyana and building stronger unity at all levels of the Guyanese nation,” Dr Roger Luncheon, chairman of the selection panel said yesterday in announcing the party’s decision.
Ramotar, 60, is expected to be fully endorsed by the membership at conferences to be held this weekend in Essequibo, Berbice and Demerara.
He joined the party 44 years ago and has served at the helm since 1997 when he was named General Secretary following the death of party founder and then President, Dr Cheddi Jagan.
Three other candidates were seeking the nomination but withdrew and gave their support to Ramotar.
These were Speaker of the National Assembly Ralph Ramkarran, Home Affairs Minister Clement Rohee and Presidential Advisor Gail Teixeira.
Ever since the late President Cheddi Jagan, the position of General Secretary and President could reside in the same person.
Ramkarran had been pressing for a secret ballot in the vote and the Committee agreed to this in the interest of full transparency. But no voting was required after he joined Rohee and Teixeira, the other candidates who withdrew.
The Central Committee met yesterday to consider and finalise a presidential candidate to represent it at the upcoming polls following several weeks of intense and deliberative sessions at the level of the Executive Committee.
Presentations made at the Executive Committee by the declared Presidential Candidates —Ramotar, Ramkarran, Teixeira and Rohee – were circulated prior to the meeting.
According to Dr Luncheon, Rohee and Teixeira were the first to withdraw from the contest and pledged their support to Ramotar.
Their decisions were well received by the meeting, Dr Luncheon reported. It was subsequent to Rohee and Teixeira’s withdrawal that Ramkarran withdrew and recommitted himself to working for another victory of the PPP/C.
“The magnanimity and political astuteness of the candidates who withdrew was hailed,” Luncheon stated. According to Dr Luncheon, every member of the Central Committee was given the opportunity to express his/her views on the candidate and the process which was consistent with the Party’s constitution and democratic norms.
“After the decision, the entire leadership, including the former Presidential Candidates, recommitted to work together to ensure another victory and reinforcing party unity.”
Agriculture Minister Robert Persaud, who had not sought the candidacy but had left his options open, said that he was proud that the process resulted in a unanimous selection and revealed that, he had been backing Ramotar.
“As a young leader of our Party and someone who supported Ramotar, I can assure the young people that their issues and agendas will continue to be advanced as we continue the transformation programme in our country,” Persaud told Kaieteur News.
“Our party has depth given that there are several competent persons fit for the Office of the President of Guyana. The identification of Donald Ramotar will certainly position the PPP/C for another victory and continue progress in Guyana,” Persaud added.
Ramotar was born on October 22, 1950 in the village of Caria Caria on the Essequibo River, to Mr. Sam Ramotar and Ms. Olive Constantine. His father was a Timber Grant operator and his mother, a housewife. He has eight siblings.
Ramotar received his primary education at Caria Caria Congregational School and later at the St. Andrew’s Primary School. He later pursued studies at the Government Technical Institute and went on to graduate as an economist at the University of Guyana, according to information released by the PPP.
He also pursued studies in Political Science in what was then the former Soviet Union. Ramotar began his working career on his father’s timber grant.
Between 1966 and 1975, he worked at GIMPEX, the commercial arm of the PPP. In 1975 he was appointed Manager of Freedom House, a position that he held for eight years. From 1983 to 1988, he served as a member of the Editorial Council of the magazine ‘Problems of Peace and Socialism’ and as the International Secretary of the Guyana Agricultural Workers’ Union (GAWU) between 1988 and 1993.
Having joined the PPP in 1967 he has been in the leadership of the party since 1979 when he was elected to the Central Committee. He became a member of the Executive Committee of the PPP in 1983 and assumed the position of Executive Secretary of the party one year after the PPP was restored to office in 1992.
The PPP noted that Ramotar has had extensive experience within the party and has represented the party on numerous occasions overseas. He was also a member of the ACP- EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly and a Bureau member of that organisation and a serving member of Guyana’s National Assembly since 1992.
Ramotar also served on several Corporate Boards.
Mr. Ramotar is the husband of Deolatchmee Ramotar and the father of three. This was the first time in its history that the PPP engaged in a contest to select a presidential candidate.
Founder Cheddi Jagan has always run as the presidential candidate. When he died, his widow, Janet Jagan, an American, ran unopposed for the Presidency in 1997.
When she became ill and resigned as Head of State, the party selected Bharrat Jagdeo as the President, and he went on to lead the party to victory at the polls in 2001 and 2006.
Jagdeo is not allowed by law to run for the presidency, having already done so twice.