By Abena Rockcliffe-Campbell
Scrutiny is usually embraced in a democracy. All around the world, it is a customary that public officials vying for high office—especially presidency—are held up to the proverbial light and examined. It is no different in Guyana.
Just recently, questions were raised in the press about the validity of Irfaan Ali’s qualifications. Ali is one of the frontrunners in the race to become the People’s Progressive Party (PPP)’s presidential candidate for the looming General and Regional elections.
Ali’s documents suggest that he may have used a fraudulent transcript to pursue his Master’s Degree programme at an Indian University.
There have been several reports in the mainstream media on this revelation. In fact, the first media report has been made almost two weeks. But Ali is still to bring forward evidence to support his claim that what is being peddled is incorrect.
However, General Secretary of the People’s Progressive Party General Secretary, Bharrat Jagdeo’s major concern is the timing of the reports.
The leader hosted his weekly press conference yesterday at his Church Street Office. There, he was asked about Ali’s issue and whether the unanswered questions raised about the qualifications could disqualify Ali from the race.
Jagdeo responded, “People are fair game, what bothers me a lot is the timing of it. The night before we started the presentation that was the night that this issue hit the public domain.”
Jagdeo, while not directly speaking about how this can affect Ali in his quest to become the presidential candidate, even went to the extreme of pointing out that the journalist who first broke the story is not a supporter of the PPP.
“Julia Johnson has a pattern over the years. She has never been really supportive of us, but forget all of that. Why on the night just before we start considering these candidates would that appear?” Jagdeo asserted.
Jagdeo said that he believes Ali is “suffering” because “in the public domain, some people say that I support him. Therefore, I believe it is contrived.”
He continued, “The matter will be dealt with. He (Ali) issued a statement and I suspect that at some point in time, he has released all of his certificates. There were wild views about that and he said that he will release some further transcripts. That will be fair game, but the timing of it is critical and I wonder where it is coming from.”
Jagdeo said that PPP is very much aware that all eyes are on it at this time and that many may want to influence the process of choosing a candidate.
He said, “Businessmen who never supported us think they can now have a horse in the race, some of our fiercest critics like Freddie Kissoon want to speak now. He called Cheddi fascist, Janet super fascist and Jagdeo super extremely fascist.”
Jagdeo said that the party will not be bothered by all those who may want to influence the process while not meaning well.
He said that the PPP knows what it needs in a presidential candidate.
“A candidate must have the ability to do party work that is unglamorous. They have to walk village by village, house to house and you do not get into the news for that. That is crucial to a candidate – willingness to work the ground from the bottom up and not make excuses.
Jagdeo was faced with questions about the possibility that the questions emanated from a source within the PPP. Media reporters made reference to the fact that there was an advertisement and a jingle promoting Anil Nandlall, who is also in the race.
Jagdeo said, “I do not think it came from that particular candidate.” He said that Nandlall did not endorse the ad or jingle.
“He wrote a note to the Executive Committee. A lot of people are doing things on their own and some of it may be to create confusion in our camp. I do not think the APNU is a passive onlooker. In parliament, they try to say who their candidates are just to create confusion in our ranks. They will like us to choose the weakest candidate.
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