By Yvonne Sam
Social and Political Commentator
In an unexpectedly blindsided move, AFC member, Charrandass Persaud, sided with the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) on a no confidence motion that brought about the collapse of the coalition government, and forced early elections.
No one saw it coming, the shot in the back, but all felt the impact. A single vote got their political goat.
Granted the entire scenario was fraught with virgin occurrences, in that it was the first time that the government of Guyana acquiesced to debate a no-confidence motion, and in the same vein, suffered a first-time loss in so doing. The solitary vote, cast amidst a heated debate, gave the PPP/C a 33-32 majority. Now elections will have to take place, despite the fact that there is almost two years remaining in the constitutional term of the current President, David Granger.
Could Charrandass Persaud no other alternative find? When did he really change his mind?
The no confidence motion, of which all 32 PPP/C members unanimously voted in favour of, was tabled by Bharrat Jagdeo, leader of the Opposition.
When it came turn for the members of the government to vote, Persaud was the third in line. On hearing his name called, Charrandass voted “yes”, much to the shock and awe of his fellow party members, who responded with “no”, from the government benches.
It appears that they were totally unsure of what they were hearing and what was being played out, live, before their very eyes. Again his name was called, eliciting yet another “yes”. Then there was a momentary pause, followed by an immediate cessation of the vote count. Such an action did not meet the favour of the PPP Members of Parliament, who swiftly voiced their objection to the delay, which was denied by Speaker of the House Dr. Barton Scotland.
During the requested five-minute recess several government MP’s, including Volda Lawrence, Chairwoman of People’s National Congress Reform (PNC/R) reached out to Persaud, who, at this point, had definitely peaked the interest of his fellow government MP’s.
Once Sherlock Isaacs, the Clerk of the Court, restarted the vote count, and when Persaud’s name was called, for the third time, he responded “yes”, not once, not twice but thrice — “Yes, Yes, Yes”.
Such demonstrable behavior on the part of Charrandass Persaud is typical of the 4 Canonical Gospel’s description of the role played by Peter during Jesus’ Last Supper. After the denial and Jesus turned to look at him, Peter then began to weep bitterly. Persaud instead, began to protest loudly, claiming that on occasions one has to vote according to conscience and not party affiliation. He is neither affiliated with the PPP/C, nor is he a member.
Why do I get the impression that this former government M.P is making such a statement, not as a lawyer but a blatant liar? It is evident, from his post-voting rants, that he had an axe to grind and was waiting for an opportunity to find. Persaud claimed that he wrote to Raphael Trotman, the AFC leader, to indicate that the party needed to make a statement. And what a statement he did make—siding with the Opposition.
So what’s next for the Guyanese populace, clearly flabbergasted by the unfolding development?
In a damage-control, face-saving gesture, former President and Opposition leader, Bharrat Jagdeo, inferred that Persaud’s decision and behavior might have been influenced by the layoff of about 7,000 sugar workers from the area where he lives.
Incidentally, is this not the selfsame Charrandass Persaud who, in September 2013, announced his departure from the AFC, even strengthening the blow by taunting readers, saying that a greater surprise would follow his declaration of the new party that he would be joining. At the time Persaud, told Stabroek News that the rationale for his exit from the party was due to his being treated as a second class citizen and taken for granted, with no recognition for his contribution. Sounds like an adult individual with an unchecked ego problem, behaving like a kid who took his ball and went home.
When and how was trust restored in Charrandas Persaud, enough to depend on him to support the party? Once a turncoat always a turncoat! And it should not be forgotten, that while some zebras may change their stripes, leopards are totally unable to change their spots.
The politicians in Guyana have always labored under the misapprehension that they have the Guyanese population fooled. Such a thought is applicable, perhaps only to those who fall under their immediate political mandate.
Persaud has said that he had no prior conversation with Jagdeo regarding his vote. Well heard. He would be better off telling it to the marines.
From my limited political stance the surreptitious move taken by Charrandass Persaud, has more undertones than meet the human eye. The country will soon be a producer of oil and it appears that Persaud, along with others, intend these plans to foil. Then again, APNU could not so foolish appear, in believing that by the behavior shown that the traitor acted all alone.
For APNU to call victory theirs, when the next election comes in three months, to a simple plan of action they must adhere. Make Prime Minister, Moses Nagamotoo, more evident, then you would be on the path to success bent. More visibility! Less divisibility!
Yvonne Sam, a retired Head Nurse and Secondary School Teacher, is Vice-president of the Guyana Cultural Association of Montreal. A regular columnist for over two decades with the Montreal Community Contact, her insightful and incursive articles on topics ranging from politics, human rights and immigration, to education and parenting have also appeared in the Huffington Post, Montreal Gazette, XPressbogg and Guyanese OnLine. She is also the recipient of the Governor General of Canada Caring Canadian Citizen Award.