Opposition Leader and General Secretary of the People’s Progressive Party, Bharrat Jagdeo, today announced that the PPP will decide on who will be its Presidential Candidate at the next elections when that time comes.
“We will keep an open mind as to who the best candidate will be when the time comes”, Jagdeo said.
He refused to say whether he would seek a third term in office as President in wake of the ruling by former Chief Justice Ian Chang and the throwing out of the appeal by the Court of Appeal.
Mr. Jagdeo has already completed two terms as President of Guyana. An amendment to the Constitution that was put in place by his government during its time in office, prohibited someone who would have served two terms as President from seeking a third term.
However, it was challenged by a private citizen in 2015 and Chief Justice at the time, Ian Chang, ruled that amendment was not properly made and such an amendment should have gone to the citizens for a vote in a referendum. A challenge of his ruling was dismissed last week by the Appeals Court.
The Attorney General has since indicated that the case will be going all the way to the Caribbean Court of Justice.
At a Freedom House press conference today, Mr. Jagdeo flounced around questions about whether he intended to give a commitment that he is not interested in a third term.
“I don’t have to give a yes or no answer”, he told journalists, while encouraging them to “speculate” if they wish. He said he is not on a witness stand and therefore does not need to give any definitive answer to the questions.
He, however, stated that at this point in the People’s Progressive Party and as its General Secretary, he is not going to worry himself with who could be the next Presidential Candidate for the 2020 elections, but rather his focus is on ensuring that all Guyanese understand the message of the PPP. He said efforts are being made to reinvigorate the party and there are “things to fix”, but assured that the party will make a decision on the best candidate to head into the 2020 polls when that time comes.
He said “outsiders and detractors who hate the PPP”, appear more concerned about the PPP and its possible candidates that the party itself. He said he cannot understand how many of those asking questions and expressing concerns could really want the best candidate for the PPP, when they really “hate us”.
He said whatever decision is made by the PPP will be one that is legal and that is in keeping with the Constitution of Guyana and is in the best interest of the party, its supporters and the country.
The former President said he could not understand why persons would be afraid of him running again if he has already been painted as corrupt and someone who has not done much for the country.
He said “I am so surprised about all this outcry about Jagdeo, because I am suppose to be a dictator, I am suppose to have mismanaged the economy, I am supposed to be the most corrupt individual in Guyana, therefore, I would make a terrible candidate”.
Jagdeo’s statement came on the same day that his successor to the Presidency and former PPP General Secretary, Donald Ramotar, was quoted in the Stabroek News as saying that the party has not changed its position against a third term Presidency.
At today’s press conference, Jagdeo said “As General Secretary, I can’t be running my mouth loosely everyday just to get my name in the newspapers”.