Charles Ramson (Jr) recently announced that he would seek the PPP’s nomination to be its presidential candidate for the 2020 general elections. That’s not the way it’s done, admonished General Secretary Bharrat Jagdeo. At the appropriate time the party will have a discussion on the matter and the candidate will emerge, he explained.

Ramson’s announcement was made immediately after the CCJ ruled that the two-term presidential limit did not violate Guyana’s constitution, thereby ruling out former president Mr. Bharrat Jagdeo for a third term, for which the PPP would have nominated him. Mr. Ramson clearly wanted his name to be placed among those under consideration before an anointment is made. He joins (in alphabetical order), Irfaan Ali, Frank Anthony and Anil Nandlall who have been identified by observers as being the persons from whom a ‘choice’ will be made. While no one has yet emerged as a ‘front runner,’ it could well be that one among the three has already been identified. If this is so then Ramson’s may possibly have been seen as an intruder, prematurely disrupting what might have been a carefully orchestrated selection process.

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The word ‘Pharaoh’ and other abuse reverberated around downtown Georgetown a week and a half ago, directed to an embarrassed Mr. Bharrat Jagdeo. He was doing a ‘walkabout’ in support of vendors who had been displaced from around the Stabroek Market area. He may not have expected the vendors’ hostility because the last time he would have walked around Georgetown while President, with head in the air, chest puffed up and a phalanx of bodyguards, vendors would have given him a polite response, partly out of curiosity, partly out of respect and partly out of fear of the gun-toting bodyguards. Having fallen from grace, and not yet realizing it, the master practitioner of the politics of abuse expected applause but was instead on the receiving end of what he regularly dishes out to others.

The vending industry in downtown Georgetown has grown to massive proportions. For 23 years PPP/C governments did little to slow the growth of vending. No additional accommodation, save in Water Street, was provided.  No rules to protect vendors, customers and the general public, were promulgated. Vending had become chaotic and posed serious environmental, health, traffic and other hazards. The inconvenience to the public and other business people was massive and growing.

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Last Monday General Secretary of the PPP, Mr. Clement Rohee, reacting at his press conference to questions about that morning’s SN’s headline “PPP executives jockeying for top position – Jagdeo, others seeking to consolidate support before crucial congress,” deemed the media as “stray dogs, going by the smell of things and rummaging the PPP neighbourhood for new and old juicy inaccuracies and speculations.” The article in SN and the questions from the media obviously touched a raw nerve.

It would be unprecedented for a PPP Congress to be postponed except if an issue of national importance gets in the way. For example, Congress was not held in 2011 because of elections year, nor in 2012 because the PPP’s minority government was under siege. There might have been other cases in the past but there have been no postponements of Congress for purely internal reasons.

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The PNCR Congress is always an interesting time for political observers, not least because in recent times there has always been a challenge to the leaders and energetic contests for other positions. In recent years both Robert Corbin and David Granger have had to overcome serious challenges. The untimely passing a few years ago of the widely respected Winston Murray, derailed what would have been the most serious contest in the PNCR leadership, perhaps in its history.

The leadership contest this time around is taking place between two talented and experienced Party operatives with impeccable credentials in terms of how they are seen by PNCR members and supporters. Mr. Norton has been in the public eye for a longer period and represents a more militant approach within the PNCR, even though he has worked to modify this image and has demonstrated an interest in wider policy matters. Mr. Granger is the incumbent and has already stamped an image of decisive and thoughtful leadership of both the PNCR and the Opposition. I listened to a speech by him last Wednesday at the opening of a seminar on Parliament, the People and the Media. He has completely lost the hesitancy and soft tones displayed when he was first elected. He is now a commanding presence with a forceful and coherent message.

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The recent Congress of the PPP concluded just as was predicted by me in a recent article (“The PPP’s 30th Congress). There were lots of applause, the Central Committee Report was adopted unanimously, poor organizational work was declared to be responsible for the 2011 electoral defeat, the Opposition and some other ‘enemies’ were identified and vilified (myself and Moses Nagamootoo) and a new Central Committee was elected without any headline catching result.

An atmosphere was established which appeared to rule out any new initiatives to break the political deadlock. Even if a more structured mode of conversation with the Opposition had been proposed, it is difficult to see how that could be accomplished or produce any results after the Opposition was accused of ‘criminal’ and ‘terrorist’ conduct.

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