The government is most concerned about the pressure from the western governments
Stabroek News
February 23, 2004

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Dear Editor,

Mr Khemraj Ramjattan who up to Friday, February 13, 2004, was seen by many as an emerging leader of the younger generation of PPP cadres, came to national prominence at a certain juncture in the nation's history - the PPP's return to governmental office in 1992. The PPP's return to power in 1992 coincided with and to a large extent, was facilitated by the end of the cold war between the two major superpowers, the USA and the USSR.

As a beneficiary of the end to the cold war the PPP/C, the name under which it contested the elections in 1992, had the support of the Western powers and in particular the USA. Mr. Ramjattan's politics is influenced by those developments. He, sections of the Guyanese society and the regional and international communities had conned themselves into believing that the hard core who continued to dominate that party's hierarchy would have made the necessary adjustments in both their politics and the political culture of the party's leadership. Time has proven just how much that belief was only a figment of their imagination. The change was not and is not forthcoming.

Mr. Ramjattan's demise in the party was predictable. Simply put, it was only a matter of time.

The timing of his expulsion from the ruling party has little to do with what he perceived as the need to overhaul the party's internal decision- making apparatus. It is true that the process of destruction of Ramjattan was set on course when he committed the grievous sin of attempting to force the party to carry out internal reforms with the ultimate aim of democratizing its structures. In spite of all of the talk of openness and transparency that the leaders of the PPP have been spouting, internal reform of the party and democratization of its structures were never on the cards. But that was not the reason for his expulsion.

He was not expelled for the frivolous reasons advanced by some of the party's "old guard" and "faithful cadres" led by Gail Teixeira in the official party statement made on the now infamous Friday 13, February, 2004. The reason for Ramjattan's expulsion is located in the statement he gave to the media in which he dared to make public the alleged accusation levelled against him by President Jagdeo at the PPP's C meeting of January 31, 2004 of carrying information to the US Embassy and the media. Ramjattan's expulsion from the PPP must therefore be seen in the context of the fear that the PPP leadership harboured about the effect that the revelation could have on the relations between the PPP/C and the Western powers, particularly the USA.

It would have been all well and good if President Jagdeo's accusation against Ramjattan was kept in the PPP's closet. As far as the PPP was concerned it was an unforgivable crime on Ramjattan's part to make the details of Jagdeo's accusation publicly known, even as an act of self defence. In going public Ramjattan delivered some serious body blows to the PPP. In a real way his utterances have in political terms narrowed the space for manoeuvering between the rulers and Washington. Why is this consideration so important at present?

The PPP/C leadership knows that the once good and supportive relationship it had enjoyed with the USA, UK and Canada is at its worst, since that party's return to office. They are aware that the failure of the USA to respond favourably to the visa application of Minister of Foreign Trade, Mr Clement Rohee, and the revocation of that of Home Affairs Minister, Mr. Ronald Gajraj and his wife, represent strong signals by the governments of Canada and the USA of their unwilingness to continue to ignore the potential threat to their respective countries national security posed by the increased use of Guyana's territory by narco-traffickers. Guyana is now dangerously poised to become another Colombia under PPP/C rule. At present this is the major contradiction in relations between the Western powers and the PPP/C government. It is impacting on the internal political dynamics in Guyana and is reflected in situations such as the Gajraj affair and Ramjattan's struggle with the PPP/C leadership. The hard core in the PPP/C knows that in this present engagement with the West the cards are stacked against them. They are also aware that the combined intelligence- gathering capacity of the USA, UK and Canada has yielded immense information on the drug trade in Guyana and the connection between some political leaders in government and the drug barons. This connection without a doubt is a serious indictment of the rulers.

It is this new reality that is potentially threatening to the PPP/C hold on power that informs their dealings with Mr. Ramjattan. His efforts to reform the party and his alliance with Moses Nagamoo-too, though disturbing, are secondary contradictions which the party's hard core is confident that once it remains in office, and Mrs. Janet Jagan is alive and politically active, they will be able to deal with whenever they arise.

However, the combined pressure from the Western powers has the hard core in the PPP/C experiencing jitters, and running scared, in spite of their public show of unity and strength demonstrated by the Central Committee members in support of government's handling of the Gajraj issue and the recent expulsion of Mr. Ramjattan by the party executive.

Politically, the pressures from the USA, UK and Canada have begun to bear fruit. However, much more still needs to be done by both the external and internal forces. The "war of nerves" is having effect and the message is slowly and surely coming home to the rulers that their destiny lies in their own actions. The forces that helped them come to office in 1992 and subsequently, helped them to remain in power with relative comfort, have now signalled the end to the "honeymoon".

Yours faithfully,

Tacuma Ogunseye