Donald Ramotar got bad advice from his party. If he had rejected that advice, perhaps the history of the PPP would have been different.
Donald Ramotar has a heavy psychological burden to carry around. It must be hard for him to carry such a burden. It must be hard for any man much less as nice a man as he is, to have to be shouldered with the burden of being the person at the helm when the PPP lost both its majority in parliament and eventually its hold on power.
The PPP will have its chance in court to prove that the results of the elections were fraudulent. But in the court of public opinion it will have to disprove the theory that it lost the elections because it took a gamble on the holding of Local Government Elections.
Donald Ramotar was advised not to call Local Government Elections even though it seemed as if at one stage he had reached an agreement with the then opposition, APNU, on those elections. The opposition did feel at one time that there was such an agreement. They were clearly wrong and Ramotar was wrong in not agreeing to those elections.
It was his biggest political mistake. It brought about his dethronement.
The PPP’s position was that if the President agreed to local government elections and lost, then the opposition which had a narrow one-seat majority would decide to move a vote of no-confidence against the PPP and this would end the life of the government.
The advice, therefore, that Ramotar was receiving was that agreeing to Local Government Elections would be to his peril. If he gambled and lost those elections he would expose himself to an inevitable no-confidence vote.
This was the worst advice possible because the opposite was true. If Ramotar failed to agree to Local Government Elections, it would leave the opposition with no alternative but to move for a vote of no- confidence in the government because the then opposition APNU and AFC had made the holding of these elections as one of their foremost priorities. They could not back down from this.
The PPP financiers concurred with the advice of the party. They were cheap. They did not wish to bankroll the PPP in both Local Government and General Elections and so they too were on the same page as the party which felt that holding Local Government Elections was a gamble.
No one saw the fact that holding Local Government Elections would have placed a great financial burden on the then opposition parties, APNU and the AFC which would have weakened them. Hindsight is a beautiful thing but even the PPP is blind to hindsight.
Donald Ramotar gambled and lost. He did not move ahead with Local Government Elections. The PPP government defence was that certain pieces of legislation were unconstitutional. The PPP now had a chance to challenge the constitutionality of the legislation; it is in opposition.
The failure of the Donald Ramotar administration to commit to Local Government Elections was “the straw that broke the camel’s back.” The then opposition had had enough of the PPP and its shenanigans over the holding of Local Government Elections. They decided then that it was time to press the no-confidence button.
The PPP thwarted that no-confidence motion by proroguing parliament, a lawful act but one that is not admired by those who support democracy. Donald Ramotar came under relentless pressure from the international community and was forced to call early General and Regional Elections.
In those elections, the PPP won seven of the ten regions. If Donald Ramotar had disregarded the advice of his party, the PPP would have swept the Local Government Elections and the opposition would have been fearful of going to General Elections.
Ramotar may have served out his term, and who knows may have still been the President today. His gamble failed. His party was ousted.
Donald Ramotar would have a long time to reflect on that gamble. He has had six months so far to reflect on it. Having reflected on it, however, it seems strange that he is making what many feel is a political comeback.
He is making another major mistake. His future in politics has ended. It is time for him to do something else. He has left a legacy that will live on. When people think of him, they will remember the gamble that he took and how it backfired. They will learn from that experience.
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