WHO WILL SUCCEED BHARRAT JAGDEO?
May 6, 2007
Now that the controversies over the leadership contest within the PNCR are waning, it is opportune to revisit once again the still unanswered question as to who is likely to succeed Bharrat Jagdeo as the PPP's Presidential candidate.
The Constitution of Guyana only permits two elected terms and therefore come 2011, Guyana will wave goodbye to President Jagdeo. The PPP will have to put forward a new Presidential candidate to contest the elections. Given the decline of the main opposition party, that person is likely to be the next President of Guyana.
The succession issue is not however clear-cut and is further complicated by the structure of the PPP which unlike the PNCR has no leader. It has been one of the failings of the PPP, and perhaps something driven by the need to preserve the collective influence of the Gang of Eight, that they have not since 1997 seen it fit to identify a clear successor to Dr. Cheddi Jagan.
So far there has been no outright candidate to succeed Bharrat Jagdeo as the party's Presidential candidate. This however is not an unknown situation because even when Cheddi was around it was not obvious who would be his likely successor. Reepu Daman Persaud was widely seen as the second in seniority but the question of him succeeding Cheddi was never straightforward.
Moses Nagamootoo came into the picture as a likely successor and there was the feeling in some quarters that he was actually grooming himself for this possibility when still in the early days of the PPP administration, he left to pursue studies abroad.
When Cheddi took ill, no one presumed that his wife would succeed him as leader, and when she did, no one could predict that young Jagdeo would succeed her. By sheer fortune he did and became the youngest ever President of Guyana. It just goes to show how important fortune is when it comes to the throwing of the political dice, a caution emphasized by Machiavelli who observed that men are not solely the masters of their own destinies but that luck and chance can play an intervening role in the making or breaking of leaders.
Fortune more than ability has been responsible for the political progression of Jagdeo from an obscure staffer within the governmental machinery to the President of Guyana in 1999. But it has been because of political astuteness aided by the mediocrity of the party to which he belongs, that has cemented him as the supreme political leader of the day.
But what happens when he calls it a day in 2011?
It has long been felt that still relatively young, and with the economist streak very much in his nature, he would opt for a senior appointment within one of the multilateral agencies of the world. For sometime that seemed the logical career move. However, even for someone with his credentials, it is not easy to nail down a job in a multilateral agency. There are equally and more eminently qualified persons who will compete for these jobs and it is not likely that western multilateral agencies would simply hand over a senior appointment to a Russian-trained economist, notwithstanding the fact that he served for twelve years as his country's President. Jagdeo may therefore remain in Guyana .
There is further reason to support this view. He is presently constructing his 20 x 30 at Pradoville.
What is also not certain is what political role he will play. Will he simply recede into the background or will he hand-pick his successor and ultimately try to play a controlling role from behind the scene? It is not likely that even if he wished that he could.
Why would someone holding the wieldy Executive Presidency of Guyana wish to be influenced by someone whose term had ended? I doubt whether therefore whether Jagdeo is likely to play any major role when he demits office.
This means that the PPP has to begin to identify the political successor to Jagdeo. There are possible front runners but it may be luck that could eventually decide the final choice.
The Peeper feels that if Roger Luncheon wants the job it is his. After the President he is by far the most influential member of the Cabinet. However problems in recent years with his health and the fact that the PPP may be looking for someone who can serve for another ten years may rule him out.
The next top candidate is Ralph Ramkarran who is likely to receive strong support from the Jaganite faction of the PPP. However because he has not had experience as a minister of the government, this may work against him.
It therefore boils down to three possible candidates: Robert Persaud, Frank Anthony and Donald Ramotar. Persaud gives the impression that he is the President-in-waiting. He has the cut and understands the importance of PR. Unlike Nagamootoo he did not commit the cardinal error of leaving government to pursue advanced studies. He can be quite a handful especially if he is supported by Jagdeo.
Anthony is a sold contender. Solid and assured, he has been waiting in the wings for a long time but it was only last year that he became a member of Cabinet. A medical doctor by profession, cool and calculating in his actions, he must not be ruled out. His shortcoming is probably his absence as a member of the all-powerful Executive Committee of the party.
Then there is the General Secretary of the PPP. Like some others he has not been a member of the government but has influence within the party. On the face of it he does not seem to stand a chance against Anthony or Persaud.
However mother luck has a way of making the unpredictable happen. 2011 could just be The Donald's year.