To end divisions, Guyana needs all major political parties to form the Government – Ramkarran
Former heavyweight of the now Opposition People’s Progress Party (PPP) Ralph Ramkarran says for Guyana’s divisions to end, all major political forces need to form the government and not have one party hold the executive.
“I passionately believe…that the way forward for Guyana and a way which has been charted since the 1950s is that in heavily divided societies, you need a coming together of major political forces in order to resolve ethnic problems – there is no other way and there is no other way for Guyana,” Ramkarran declared in an interview with the News Room Thursday.
Ramkarran and former PPP Government Minister, Dr Henry Jeffrey are fronting a new political party; others behind the movement so far Timothy Jonas, an Attorney, who twice served as President of the Guyana Bar Association and businessman Terrence Campbell, whose business include the local Fedex courier service and fast food franchises Church’s Chicken, Mario’s Pizza, Quiznos and DQ Ice Cream.
Ramkarran, who six years ago walked away from the PPP after serving the party at the highest level for decades, said he has returned to politics because now is the “last opportunity” to push for a Government of national unity.
The party is called a New and United Guyana.
“Henry Jeffrey and I are friends, so we talk quite often. We had discussed, not us forming a party, but the prospects of another political party coming on the scene, especially after the AFC joined with APNU and removed itself from the political scene having that third-party status,” he revealed.
“We then felt there is space for a third party, a third party which can attract electoral votes, with a specific agenda,” he stated.
That agenda includes constitutional reform.
The party first wants to initially centre its agenda for constitutional reform on the proposals made by the APNU+AFC Coalition. These include holding separate elections to choose a president, to have the Prime Minister come from the party with the second highest number of votes and for each party that secures 15
In such a scenario, he said, “…all the important political forces would be gathered in one executive, administering the affairs of the country.”
This, he said, “will go a long way to resolving the problems of insecurity in society.”
The party had planned to announce its formation next month, since, before the No-Confidence motion, elections were constitutionally due in 2020 and that would have given the party an estimated 18 months to prepare, to build up an organisation, to do fundraising, “to do serious campaigning.”
But the passage of the No-Confidence motion caused the announcement to be made on Wednesday.
Ramkarran revealed that talk of a political movement has been going on for a while.
“There are a number of expressions of sympathy,” Ramkarran stated, saying those persons will be targeted as the party looks to raise funds, develop a campaign and hold public events.
“We will win the elections, we hope, either by full majority or by a plurality.
“In the event that we don’t, we hope to get a sufficiently large number of seats to have an important say in the National Assembly,” he stated.
Ramkarran’s party eyes disenchanted supporters of the AFC, the PPP and APNU to vote for a New and United Guyana.
Ramkarran is mindful of criticism that he is too old. He is 72.
“That is ageism,” he retorts, pointing to examples around the world of elderly Presidents, such as in Malaysia, and in Guyana, where President David Granger is older than he is.
“I am still active, I am in employment, I am not retired,” he declared.
He also rejects the idea that he is middle-class and would not connect with the ordinary people.
He cites Cuban revolutionary Fidel Castro and Russia’s Vladimir Lenin as middle-class men who championed “working class revolutions.”
“This class issue is a red herring; I belonged to a working-class party my whole life.
“It is what your policies are.”
Ramkarran served in the highest forum of the PPP, but he did not participate in public political meetings when he served on the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), starting in 1991.
He was put back on the PPP’s list for the 2001 elections and volunteered to speak but was not given the opportunity.
For the 2006 elections, he campaigned at meetings in the city and in the countryside, but those meetings did not attract publicity.
He said in the 1990s when former President Bharrat Jagdeo was named on the PPP’s A-Team, he had to be taken to Berbice and be introduced to supporters there, whereas, he Ramkarran, had been going there for decades.
“I had no intention of going back into politics,” Ramkarran stated, but said he made the decision over his belief that the message of his party would resonate with the people.