– Ramsammy pulled off list due to serious health problems
By Jarryl Bryan
Former President Donald Ramotar has finally broken the seal of secrecy on his exclusion from the list of Members of Parliament. He made it pellucid that he will not seek public office in the future. He also confirmed that Dr. Leslie Ramsammy, former Minister of Health and of Agriculture, has withdrawn from the list and politics in general due to very serious health problems.
This came out during a press conference held at the party’s Headquarters of Freedom House yesterday. Ramotar, who hosted the conference, fielded questions about his exclusion from the People’s Progressive Party’s (PPP) list of MPs for Parliament which was made public only Tuesday, in addition to his subjugation as Leader of the Opposition in favor of his predecessor in Office, former President Bharrat Jagdeo.
Ramotar, who held the Presidency from 2011 to last May, stated that although he personally preferred a parliamentary list composed of the younger generation of PPP members, from whom the leader should have also been chosen, he stood behind his party’s decision to go with former President Bharrat Jagdeo as leader of the Opposition.
According to Ramotar, he had been waiting until the party completed its selection of a list of MPs before speaking publicly. “My personal view is that the party should go with a transition, to younger leaders, at this point in time to take us to future success.”
“And I had thought that the party should have chosen a leader from this generation of people.”
He disclosed that the party, though initially agreeing with that position, had after thorough discussions, decided on a transitional process before the reins of responsibility were handed over to the younger generation.
Ramotar stressed the point that it was as a result of this party consensus that the decision had been made for Jagdeo to come as leader of the Opposition.
“It was felt that we need to work, over the next five years, towards transitioning the party into the hands of younger people.”
Ramotar lauded the current leadership of the party as “extremely capable and talented” who he said could take the party into future success.
On his own political future, Ramotar made it clear that he would not seek Public Office again, unless “something dramatic” should take place in the future that would create a demand from his Party that he return.
In response to queries as to why the list was one person short, Ramotar revealed that former Minister of Health Dr. Leslie Ramsammy, had withdrawn from the list and would not head to parliament, due to health concerns.
“He has expressed his desire to go there and do battles, but he has serious health problems,” Ramotar disclosed. According to him, the spot would probably be filled by today.
The inclusion of the controversial former Health Minister Dr. Bheri Ramsarran and former Public Service Minister Dr. Jennifer Westford on the list of MPs was heavily criticized by several sections of society.
In April Ramsarran became embroiled in the ‘Bherigate’ scandal, where a recording of him threatening to “slap and strip” a female activist surfaced. Ramsarran was subsequently relieved of his Ministerial portfolio by then President Ramotar after immense public pressure.
Dr. Westford was also embroiled in scandal late last month after documents came to light implicating her and others, including two senior Government functionaries, in the transfer of at least eight Government vehicles from the Ministry of Public Service.
Reminded of these transgressions, Ramotar stated that their inclusion on the list was as a result of the party’s final decision, despite internal division as to whether they should be selected.
“There were people in our party who were not in favour of everyone on the list, but in the final analysis, that was the final decision by the party of the people they want to take to parliament.”
As it related to the PPP’s continued absence from parliament, which convened on June 10 with A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance for Change (APNU+AFC) taking oaths as MPs while the PPP staged a protest outside the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), Ramotar affirmed that while he always knew the party must enter Parliament, timing was a strong consideration.
Asked whether the list had finally been submitted to GECOM, Ramotar affirmed that this should happen at some point over the coming days. He also revealed that the question of when the PPP would enter parliament had not been settled.
It has been widely circulated that Ramsammy, who held the portfolio of Minister of Health from 2001 to 2011, was in declining health himself. During the recently concluded elections, it was also reported that the career Microbiologist was ailing and receiving overseas treatment.
The PPP list, which was released on Tuesday, features ten new faces including Collin Croal, a former Permanent Secretary; Gillian Persaud, Zulfikar Mustapha; Alister Charlie; Venkatasuma Anamayah; Nigel Dharamlall; Dr. Clive Jagan; Charles Ramson Jr, and Africo Selman.
Also included in the list and drawn from Geographic Constituencies are Carnel Damon; Irfaan Ali; Komal Chand; Anil Nandlall; Neendkumar; Priya Manickchand; Dr. Vishwa Mahadeo; Dr. Jennifer Westford; Dr. Frank Anthony; Indranie Chandarpal; Juan Edghill; Joseph Hamilton; Odinga Lumumba; Ganga Persaud; Dr. Vindhya Persaud; Dr. Bheri Ramsaran; General Secretary, Clement Rohee; Dharamkumar Seeraj; Pauline Sukhai; and Gail Teixeira.
Missing from the list is businessman Clinton Urling, who after endorsing the party in the lead-up to the May 11 elections clashed with senior officials after criticizing Jagdeo. Dr. Ashni Singh, former Finance Minister, Carolyn Rodrigues, former Foreign Affairs Minister, Robeson Benn, former Public Works Minister, Dr. Nanda Gopaul, former Minister of Labor and Bibi Shadick are also excluded from the list.
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