Ms. Elisabeth-Harper
Ms. Elisabeth Harper

By Dr. David Hinds

News Americas, GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Tues. Feb. 24, 2015: The PPP stunned the country by naming Foreign Service Officer, Ms. Elisabeth Harper, as its Prime Ministerial candidate for the upcoming election. All the pundits speculated that one of the party members would have been the preferred candidates. The reaction from non-PPP quarters has not been complimentary. In our ethnically charged environment, the Uncle Tom characterization is barely disguised, if at all.

The PPP is playing up her credentials as a Civil Society type with an unblemished record of national service. But is she really the non-political, neutral Civil Society type?  I hardly think so.  Many of her co-workers at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs are not surprised that she was picked as a PPP candidate. Some of them have long reported that while her competence could not be faulted, her partisan preference was plain for all to see. This writer had been told this in confidence on at least three occasions.

We should also remember that Ms. Harper was very prominent on the PPP-organized picket line protesting the opposition budget cuts last year. If low level workers could have claimed that they were coerced to join those pickets, I hardly think someone of the rank and stature of Ms. Harper would have been coerced. She had to have gone there of her own free will.

Everyone is entitled to belong to the party of his or her choice. And Ms. Harper should be accorded that right, even if she chooses a party that is unpopular with her ethnic group. In that regard I defend her right to be a top candidate for the PPP.

But the PPP should not behave as if it went scouting for talent and discovered Ms. Harper. They have simply chosen a member/supporter of their own party. A lot of the negative responses to Ms. Harper’s candidacy could be avoided if she comes out and tell the public that she has for some time been a PPP member/supporter.

Dr. David Hinds, a political activist and commentator, is an Associate Professor of Political Science and Caribbean and African Diaspora Studies at Arizona State University. More of his writings and commentaries can be found on his YouTube Channel Hinds’ Sight: Dr. David Hinds’ Guyana-Caribbean Politics and on his website


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