…Two ‘disaffected’ members from Canada chapter behind leaks
Co-founder and Chairman of the Alliance For Change (AFC), Khemraj Ramjattan, believes the leaked emails of an internal discussion on the unilateral appointment of Justice James Patterson (ret’d)as Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), proves that the party’s leadership is open to frank discussions on topical issues.
Co-founder and President of the AFC, Khemraj Ramjattan
Ramjattan, who holds the portfolio for Public Security, told Kaieteur News yesterday that two members who left the party’s Canada Chapter are behind the leakage thus far.
“There is no harm that will be done. Parties and executives must have frank and without prejudice debate on many issues. That is what we did. I am concerned that within the membership they had these two guys from the Canada group who have broken away. The major group with all the other members is still intact,” Ramjattan said.
He said that the email chain was started to inform Chapter leaders and other senior officials of the party’s position and the expectation was responsibility on the part of leaders not to leak the emails when they disagreed with the party’s overall position on Justice Patterson’s appointment.
According to Ramjattan, the party’s Canada chapter remains intact and that one of the disaffected held discussions when Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo, visited Canada.
To date, emails have featured Ramjattan, Minister of Business, Dominic Gaskin; Minister of Public Infrastructure, David Patterson; and Ministerial Adviser on Diaspora Affairs, Dr. Rohan Somar. Gaskin, Patterson and Somar have all expressed grave concerns about President David Granger’s unilateral appointment of Patterson after he rejected the 18 names submitted by Jagdeo.
Kaieteur News understands that there are other emails from other party leaders which have not yet been made public.
There is the belief that the views expressed by the leaders of the AFC, a major component of the Coalition government, may create an uncomfortable situation within the Cabinet. Ramjattan said this is not the case.
“The repercussions are turning out to be very positive because I spoke to a number of people and they are of the view that party leaders generally are dictators and autocrats. They never understood that parties like the AFC had major discussions and talk to their memberships, their executives and chapters with such frankness. And that is what this party is,” Ramjattan stated.
The AFC President noted that the AFC is a liberal democratic party and if somebody is angry and wants to leak it to the press then there is nothing the party can do about it.
“We will have to take better precautions…It is an individual responsibility and if you don’t like the decision then you say so and we move on…Not when you disagree you want to hold the party to ransom and you want to embarrass Ramjattan; you want to embarrass Raphael Trotman; you want to embarrass the government,” Ramjattan stated.
He maintained his position that President Granger did not ask him to consult with the wider AFC on the appointment of the GECOM Chair.
One of the leaked emails showed that Ramjattan during a Cabinet break advised President Granger that he was not in favour of the Jagdeo’s second list of nominees. According to Ramjattan, the president asked for his personal view and he referred to the Constitution which allows the President to make the ‘unilateral’ appointment.
“I don’t have to go consult with the members. I told him I, too, was not comfortable with those lists [provided by Jagdeo] and if like me you are not comfortable then proceed to go to the proviso and make your decision because its eight months without a GECOM chairman and the war of attrition that Bharrat was going to give him further lists that might not be fit and proper and that attrition war is going to cause us to go into another constitutional crisis. I was merely advising the President as best as I could at that point in time,” Ramjattan explained.
UNLIKE THE PPP
The AFC Chairman could not explain why anyone would see the frank discussions highlighted by the leaks as negative. He said people state their views very clearly in the AFC and the leadership encourages the open and courteous debate unlike the opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP).
Ramjattan, who was expelled from the PPP before forming the AFC, said the open debate is also encouraged at the party’s general meetings.
“We are not a party that will shut people out or if you disagree we expel you; we are not going to expel anybody either; that is for the PPP,” Ramjattan stated.
Asked about the criticisms made in the emails about the party not holding the members of the coalition accountable, Ramjattan said the AFC leaders have independent minds and members of the A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) have also demonstrated the need to hold their leaders accountable.
“I would like to see criticisms of me if I am not performing as Security Minister and so too, if I find an APNU Minister is not performing we will tell them and that is why the AFC entered into the coalition with APNU because we felt that those who deliberated in parliament would have that attitude,” Ramjattan stated.
He said that the PPP has become a monolithic party which has allowed Jagdeo to take it back after he said that he was going to plant a farm at the end of his second term.
The culture within the PPP is to make sycophants. That is what has happened here because Jagdeo could just walk in and take it over and all those garrulous Nandalls and Priya Manichand would just shut up and do nothing, and that is not good for a country. You must have internal party democracy at a genuine level,” Ramjattan stated.