Guyana’s oldest political party, the People’s Progressive Party has announced that its longtime member Clement Rohee has been elected as the new General Secretary of the party. The decision was made on Monday as the party executives met to elect its central committee.
The position is the most powerful one in the party and was previously held by party founder Dr. Cheddi Jagan until his death in 1997. Current President Donald Ramotar served as the General Secretary from 1997 and has now decided to step aside from the position and make way for Rohee. Mr. Ramotar reportedly told the meeting that he did not want to continue in the post.
Former PPP Member and political watcher, Raymond Gaskin said while it is not surprising that Rohee would be elected position since he is one of the longest-serving members, it was surprising that the President opted to no longer continue in the position.
“Mr. Ramotar had no reason to step down from the position because there was an Executive Secretary and Cheddi served as General Secretary while he was President, So I don’t understand the move by Ramotar to not seek re-election. It could mean that he was not getting the support of his the party’s central committee members”, Gaskin said.
Other Political watchers believe that the move by the President to step down and push Rohee as the new General Secretary could be seen as a very strategic one for the party returning to the roots of its founder Dr. Cheddi Jagan. Rohee was very close to the Jagans and was considered an understudy.
During the Bharrat Jagdeo presidency, it was believed that he was moving the party away from the ideals of the Jagans and tried to create his own brand of the political party. Jagdeo never served as General Secretary but had developed a large following in the party especially by the young members when he was President of Guyana. He pulled the second highest number of votes at the party’s 2013 congress, coming in behind President Ramotar.
Sources close to the PPP have told News Source that the decision to appoint Rohee as the new General Secretary of the party could also be a move to start laying the ground work for his resignation as Minister of Home Affairs.
He has been heavily criticized by the political opposition for his performance as Home Affairs Minister.
The Opposition had even moved to the National Assembly and passed a no confidence motion in him. He refused to resign from the post and the President indicated that he was not going to ask him to step down. But that decision resulted in the Opposition blocking all pieces of legislation being presented to the house in the name of the Minister of Home Affairs. The Opposition parties hold the majority in the National Assembly.
The General Secretary of the PPP is tasked with the day-to-day running of the party and the organisation of party groups and supporters. It is considered a full-time job. While Mr. Ramotar served as General Secretary, he did not hold any cabinet position.