…detractors will not influence process – JagdeoThe Executive of the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) will today vote to elect its presidential candidate for the upcoming Regional and General Elections.The five candidates contesting for the position are Opposition Chief Whip Gail Teixeira; former Attorney General Anil Nandlall; former Housing Minister Irfaan Ali; former Culture, Youth and Sport Minister, Dr Frank Anthony and Member of Parliament, Dr Vindhya Persaud.Last week, these candidates made their case in presentations before the Party’s Executive, and their submissions were discussed ahead of this weekend’s voting via secret ballot.Previously, in the PPP, the presidential candidate was consensually nominated, but this time around there are more than one candidate; as such, the Party resorted to using the secret ballot.Speaking with reporters at his weekly press briefing on Thursday, PPP General Secretary Bharrat Jagdeo believes that a consensus candidate would have been the more desired way forward.“It’s always better to have a consensus candidate; in any organisation, that’s the ideal thing… [So] which party doesn’t want to have a consensus? Shouldn’t that be what you want to work towards? Is that not the best thing to do?” Jagdeo, who is also the Opposition Leader, queried.The Opposition Leader made it clear that outside opinions and detractors such as Freddie Kissoon and sections of the media who are attempting to dictate the Party’s decision will not influence the process in electing the candidate. Last week, a section of the media launched an attack to desecrate the character of Irfaan Ali, who is one of the presidential prospects in the candidacy race. In 2018, the same was done to Gail Teixeira by Kissoon who attempted to discredit the Chief Whip.The Opposition Leader assured that whoever is selected from the five would receive the full support and cooperation of the other candidates going forward.“In the presentation, every single one of the five said, ‘If I do not become the [presidential] candidate, I will work with, and support, the other person’. They all said that explicitly. This was asked of everyone…every single one of the five said, ‘Yes, I will work for the interest of the Party and support [whoever is selected]’… So that is really good for our organisation,” Jagdeo stated.According to the Leader of the Opposition, this is particularly important since the Party has a specific programme to execute when it returns to office. This includes reversing the draconian measures imposed on the mining sector by the coalition Government; reopening the three sugar estates that were closed in 2017; bringing in private investors to employ persons and restore benefits to pensioners and the children.Jagdeo said the PPP was also looking to create a “big tent” when in office to include civil society and other stakeholders who have been approaching the Party, expressing a desire to work with the Party. This, he added, include youths whom the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) seemed to have abandoned.In fact, using himself as a prime example, Jagdeo pointed out that the PPP has a track record on young people in politics that is unassailable in this region. The former Head of State reminded too that more than half of his Cabinet was below the age of 40 and were managing some of the country’s critical sectors.“We are a party that give young people opportunities. I was in my 20s when I became a minister, I was 35 when my party selected me to take the office of the President,” he said.Now, he added, this trend continues with one of the presidential candidates being in his 30s, two in their 40s, another in his 50s and one in her 60s.“So we have a range of people with years of experience as well. They had worked themselves up to the leadership of the Party and they had not just the Government experience, but went to the congress; they got elected; they went to the [Central Committee], and then they got to the Executive … So we have a proven track record with young people,” Jagdeo reaffirmed.Jagdeo noted that the Party has also started work on its candidacy lists for Nomination Day, which could be early February. To this end, he is calling on persons interested in being on the Party’s regional, national top-up and geographical lists to so indicate.