The ruling yesterday by the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) may have put paid to any aspirations that former President, Bharrat Jagdeo had to run again for the position of Head of State.
However, for now, the General Secretary of the People’s Progressive Party (PPP), is digging in his heels and vowing to stay on as head of his party to lead it into the 2020 general elections.
Speaking during an emergency press conference at his Church Street office shortly after the decision, Jagdeo read a statement issued over the weekend, in which, anticipating a negative ruling from the CCJ, he had made it clear that he was staying on as General Secretary.
In fact, he will be leading the charge in helping to select and groom the next presidential candidate. He refused to be drawn into naming someone, but admitted that the person would have to be hard-working, possess management skills and be courageous.
Jagdeo’s stance comes at a time when it is felt in some quarters, including his own party, that he should call it a day with a third term no longer possible.
His party’s last leader, former President Donald Ramotar, who had his first term cut short amid early elections, did not mince words yesterday when he said that CCJ decision was a good thing.
He stressed that the decision to limit presidential terms to two was taken after widespread consultations.
However, in what may be a sharp retort to Ramotar, a defiant Jagdeo said that PPP is not about Freedom House – its Robb Street headquarters – or a few leaders.
Making a case for his popularity, Jagdeo said that lots of people in the base of PPP have been calling him in the past few days asking about his role.
He said that unlike 2015, when he played no formal part, he will do so in 2020.
“I am the General Secretary… I will remain the General Secretary in spite of the ruling.”
He said that his decision to remain has nothing to do with the CCJ ruling.
Asked about the next PPP presidential candidate, he said that he will be playing a lead role as the General Secretary, with the name to be announced at the appropriate time.
Jagdeo, whose two terms were riddled with accusations of corruption and cronyism, said that while there was lots of speculation in 2011 about his role, he complied with the law then and left.
He said he will respect the CCJ’s interpretation of the law, as it is the law of Guyana.
Jagdeo insisted that he wanted to be around for the transformation of the party, bringing in more young people and women. He made it clear that he has no problems with the “older folks” of the party, but persons will have to “shift” down a bit.
Jagdeo said that he has significant policy experience which he wants to lend to his party but will not want a full-time job. Rather, he wants some time for himself.
Jagdeo also defended his track record with respect to youths, pointing out that his Cabinet was dominated by persons between 30-40 years of age.
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