Guyana Elections: The return of Mr Jagdeo – commentary

The return of Mr Jagdeo – commentary

Former President Bharat Jagdeo

Former President Bharat Jagdeo

March 23, 2015 · Stabroek News – Editorial

After maintaining public silence for more than three years, former President Jagdeo seized the centre stage earlier this month, first at Babu Jaan on March 8th in a widely reviled presentation and then on March 10th at a hastily convened press conference at Freedom House where he sought to defend his actions but only succeeded in stirring up animosities over his remarks about the Jagans.

Just over two weeks earlier, Mr Jagdeo also featured prominently when President Ramotar mind-bogglingly named him to head up a National Economic Council which one presumes would take off if the PPP/C were returned to office. Why would the President see the need to make this appointment now or to limit his options after the elections are over? Further, it is most unusual for a President to accord his immediate predecessor such an important position in policy making and even rarer for the predecessor to accept. Who would really be running the show? The President or Mr Jagdeo? 

Indeed, at his March 10 press conference at Freedom House, it was as if Mr Jagdeo had resumed the presidency. Not only did he show deeper knowledge and awareness of the range of subjects addressed but he impoliticly deprived the President of the opportunity of making important disclosures such as that a new policy would guide decisions on medical assistance for government officials in the wake of the scandal over expenditures for ministers and others and that the $3b being desperately sought by the administration was really for the beleaguered sugar corporation.

As surmised in the February 22 Sunday Stabroek editorial, the appointment, pro bono, to this abstruse council which had hitherto not been seen as necessary by the PPP/C was likely “an avenue for Mr Jagdeo to take a full, if not a prominent part in the election campaign”.

This is where the arc of Mr Jagdeo’s activities and pronouncements will now intersect with the public interest and he and his government will have to be answerable for his actions and statements. From all that has transpired in the recent weeks, it is clear that President Ramotar feels so weakened and vulnerable on the campaign trail that he has no other option but to rely on Mr Jagdeo. As if to confirm this publicly, in the PPP’s newspaper advertisement for the Kitty rally on Sunday, Mr Jagdeo is featured prominently as the de facto third person on the ticket. It is also evident that Mr Jagdeo believes that he is the most potent campaigner in the PPP camp and he will play this role to the hilt – including the invoking of race shibboleths – as a means of protecting his own interests and those of his numerous friends who established themselves during his 12 years in office.

Whichever way it is looked at, President Ramotar has placed Mr Jagdeo front and centre of the campaign. This campaign is now not only about President Ramotar and Elisabeth Harper but also about Mr Jagdeo and by extension his record in office. Quite interestingly, it was Mr Jagdeo who referenced, even if most incompletely, his record and mounted a defence of it at the March 10th press conference. When asked about his wealth accumulation while on a presidential salary, Mr Jagdeo said: “My thing is when I built my first house, they said it was too big. Then, secondly, that I sold it for a lot of money, which is not so much now—because I know you have other people selling their houses for two and three times more than I sold mine,” he added. He also said that he had been bombarded by questions and criticisms about where he acquired money from for his home and lifestyle. He said if those were the only criticisms of his 20 odd years of serving in public office, he could not be bothered. “If, in 20 odd years, the worst thing that they can say about me is that I have a big house and I earn a lot of money abroad, then I am good… everything that I do, I am transparent about it. We would like to see everybody progress. Everybody,” he said.

Not quite. There are many more things for Mr Jagdeo to answer. The first is a refined rendering of the question that he rephrased. How on a presidential salary and benefits was he able to acquire his first property? That is a reasonable question and one that he should be prepared to answer in great detail.

When he stands on the campaign platform, there are many other issues in his 12-year presidency on which an expiation would be welcome. These would include the complete breakdown of law and order in the aftermath of the 2002 prison break, the enlisting of drug lord Roger Khan to prosecute the crime war, the turning of a blind eye to the capers of Khan and others in the drug trade, the horrendous decisions that have been made on the sugar industry and the dire straits it is in at the moment, the absence of the procurement commission, the favouring of New GPC with respect to drug contracts, the highly questionable use by NICIL of funds that should be paid into the Consolidated Fund and the inability to reach a broad political accord with the opposition and which has led to the present stalemate. These are only a few of the areas of interest

By elevating Mr Jagdeo in the political campaign, the PPP/C and Mr Jagdeo will no doubt seek to maximize their positions. However, they will also have to be accountable for the record that he has left in his wake.

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  • Rose  On 03/23/2015 at 5:58 pm

    Can’t you see that Jagdeo is Putin the wool over the eyes of the Guyanese people. All the more for every one in Guyana to exercise their right to vote if they want to see a change for the better. If you don’t go out to vote then you have no right to complain after the fact.

  • Chill  On 03/23/2015 at 7:19 pm

    Jagdeo returned with bigger pockets,his intention is to drain the economy,he had an unfinished .He wants to make it in the world book of guiness record.for theft.

  • Chill  On 03/23/2015 at 7:30 pm

    Jagdeo needs to visit a dentist, his mouth is full of cavity, Barefacedly and under the influence deception ,he challenged David Granger and others for a debate. He can only debate about back-ball. What moral he has to face the future repairers of the breaches he and his communist fanatics, and Ali Baba did to our beautiful Guyana. Let the voters note the P.P.PC. mean Problems Punishment, and Pain Continue.

  • Lord Norman  On 03/23/2015 at 9:35 pm

    From the beginning we knew Jagdeo used Ramotar, who is a yes man and whom he can control. Its a sad day for Guyanese if you don’t do the right thing. vote the bastards out of office. remember moon ah run til day ketcham.

  • de castro  On 03/24/2015 at 1:13 am

    Seldom in today’s politics is a ‘has been’ become a ‘to be’…….
    However for an ex president to join the ‘fray’ is strategic.
    Will the voters notice.
    Naievity in politics can prove fatal.

    Que Sera Sera
    Let’s hope the electorate make the right decisions by voting.!

  • detow  On 03/24/2015 at 1:59 pm

    It is disgrace that the people of Guyana allowed Jagdeo to ruin Guyana over a 12 year period and even more of a tragedy that they allowed him to pillage the public Treasury for the benefit of himself, his family and cohorts. What would be even more disgraceful is if they, the people, are silly enough to allow him, and by extension, the PPP/C back into office comes the next election.

    Like de castro I hope that the people make the right decision by going out and voting when the time comes.


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