UNCLE DONALD AND MR. RALPH
When a procession of its leaders is departing from the ranks of the PPP, it says there is something that is going wrong within the ruling party. It also says there is a need for things to be fixed.
First it was Khemraj Ramjattan, not a senior leader of the PPP, but one of some merit considering that he had once been the leader of the party’s youth arm. Then there was Moses Nagamootoo, a stalwart of the party. Now it is Ralph Ramkarran, who was considered a political elder within the leadership of the party.
Persons come and persons leave political parties all the time, but when such leaders depart the country’s ruling party when it is holding political office, it suggests a crisis.
That crisis may have been long in the making. The circumstances that triggered Mr. Ramkarran’s departure are not contestable. It reportedly occurred after some person or persons expressed unease at discussing confidential matters in his presence at an Executive Committee meeting. Mr Ramkarran was upset at this treatment and left the meeting. He subsequently resigned.
While the departure of Mr. Ramkarran may have been triggered by this specific incident, it must have, however, been an accumulation of mistreatment at the hands of his colleagues that pushed him to quit the party.
It is possible that Mr. Ramkarran took the step that he did because of sustained abuse within the Executive Committee. There are many within the leadership of the PPP who are possibly glad that Mr. Ramkarran has called it a day, in so far as his membership of the PPP is concerned.
Certainly, the tactic of claiming unease in discussing confidential matters in the presence of others is not a new one where the Executive Committee of the PPP is concerned, and was also used in the past to push others out of the party.
Let it also be recalled that after one individual walked out of an Executive Meeting and said, “I finish with y’all,” this was unceremoniously accepted as a resignation from that committee, and there was hardly any attempt at reconciliation.
The PPP, however, is now keen to have some form of reconciliation with Ralph Ramkarran, because his resignation was preceded by an article that he wrote suggesting that corruption was pervasive in Guyana. It is possible that the hostility that Mr. Ramkarran faced at that Executive Committee meeting may have been occasioned by that article.
The PPP is notorious for burying its head in the sand when it comes to criticism. And so it is possible for the two things – Mr. Ramkarran’s article on corruption and the unease that was expressed within the Executive Council about discussing certain matters in his presence- may be related.
The PPP has suffered ‘fall-outs’ in the past because of the way it treated some of its political stalwarts. Donald Ramotar, the party’s General Secretary and now President of Guyana is keen on reconciliation with Ralph. He has already described him as a valuable member of the PPP and hopes to speak with him soon.
He will however have to do more than simply speak with him. He will have to offer assurances that the circumstances that led to his resignation do not occur again. This is not going to be easy unless Mr. Ramkarran is made to play a more important role within the leadership of the party or the government. Such a role will ensure that no further disrespect come Mr. Ramkarran’s way.
If Donald Ramotar is keen on reconciliation he should offer an apology for what took place and then make plans to utilize the abilities of Mr. Ramkarran.
Mr. Ramkarran can play an important part in the political talks that are taking place between the government and the opposition. These talks have reached a stalemate because of a combination of factors, not the least of which is the fallout from the Budget cuts.
If there is anyone who can improve the relations between the government and the opposition it would be Mr. Ralph Ramkarran. He has the sobriety; he is respected because of his role as Speaker and he is likely, as his columns within the Mirror demonstrate, to be someone who can take reasonable positions.
The President should therefore have his talk with Ralph and when that talk is over he should, regardless of whether Mr. Ramkarran comes back to the party or not, ask him to be his special emissary for talks with the opposition parties, both bilaterally and through the tripartite process.
Even if Mr. Ramkarran opts out of the party structure, his abilities as a mediator and negotiator should be utilized at the level of the government, because he is someone that can make a difference when it comes to improving relations with the opposition and finding a solution to the present impasse.
The President should therefore act quickly and appoint Mr. Ramkarran to head a government team that would try to find accommodation with the opposition.