Apr 06, 2011 Editorial
After all the storm and fury during the past year about “secret voting” versus “show of hands”, the predicted showdown in the PPP’s Central Committee over choosing their presidential candidate became a unanimous acclaim for their long-serving General Secretary, Donald Ramotar. Three of the other candidates, Clement Rohee, Gail Teixeira and Ralph Ramkarran withdrew from the race at the decisive meeting. Consequently, with the prior decision of Moses Nagamootoo to stay out because his demand for a vote at Congress was not met, no vote was necessary. Donald Ramotar was literally the last man standing.
The PPP had maintained its tradition of selecting its presidential candidate by acclaim and presenting a unified leadership cadre to the voting public. Ramotar is thus spared not only the possible sniping and undermining to which defeated rivals might have resorted but his profile has been raised in the eyes of the party’s faithful, not to mention the wider Guyanese public , because those rivals chose to step aside. They have conceded that in their estimation, he was the leader that their party and the country needed at this moment. But maybe the brouhaha was not in vain: in announcing the PPP’s decision, Cabinet Secretary Dr. Roger Luncheon declared that if matters had gone to a vote, it would have been done in secret. A principle has been reaffirmed.
But we return to the man who would be president, and preliminarily compare him to the others who also seek that role – David Granger of the PNC and Khemraj Ramjattan of the AFC. Age-wise, he falls smack between his rivals but his political experience would easily double theirs. As a point of fact, in Donald Ramotar we have a unique phenomenon in Guyana and possibly the Caribbean. In this region where, in the words of Lloyd Best, we have become conditioned to practicing “Doctor politics”, Ramotar’s entire training and vocation has been completely given over to politics.
It is rather ironic that there has been some criticism that Ramotar does not have “qualifications” like his opponents, when his whole life has been devoted to preparing him for political office. Granger has been a military officer and historian while Ramjattan, who has some experience as a member of the Executives of the PYO and the PPP and as an MP, has been a full-time lawyer.
Starting out as a mere teenager in GIMPEX (a business run by the PPP in Georgetown to provide funding to the party – Guyana Import-Export) since 1966, he joined the party the following year and came into contact immediately with the top guns at nearby Freedom House.
He must have impressed them because he was made manager of Freedom House in 1975 and a member of the PPP’s Central Committee in 1979. This would have been as a reward for his work during the infamous referendum of 1978. Catapulted into the governing Executive Council in 1983, he was blooded for higher office by being selected to represent the party abroad on the Editorial Council of the magazine ‘Problems of Peace and Socialism’.
On his return to Guyana, his experience was broadened by seconding him to serve as the International Secretary of the Guyana Agricultural Workers’ Union (GAWU) between 1988 and 1993.
His political rise continued with his appointment as Executive Secretary of the PPP in 1993, and upon the passing of Dr. Jagan in 1997, the ultimate accolade was bestowed when he was made General Secretary, the positions he still holds. Traditionally this was the position held by Dr. Jagan. His political education and experience was deepened by his many years of service in Parliament, unlike Mr Granger who has never been an MP add for more years than Mr Ramjattan, who has been one.
From his wide training and experience in politics and especially being the conduit between the people and the government for his party for so many years, Mr. Ramotar appears well qualified to take on the responsibilities of steering our ship of state. We look forward to a vibrant campaign in the months ahead, and wish him and his opponents the best of luck.
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