June 25, 2017

“I did the best I could”

– says Dr Roopnaraine on removal from Education Ministry

– confirms WPA was not consulted

Dr Rupert Roopnaraine being cornered by media operatives at Parliament on Thursday.

The Working Peoples’ Alliance (WPA); the political party that Dr Rupert Roopnaraine represents in the coalition A Partnership for National Unity, Alliance for Change (APNU/AFC) Government was not consulted in his removal from heading the Government’s largest Budget Ministry to heading a Ministry within the Ministry of the Presidency (MOTP).

Dr Roopnaraine confirmed this minutes before Thursday’s sitting of the National Assembly was convened, but was evasive as reporters attempted to get clarifications.

According to the Former Minister of Education, “I didn’t request it,” the move—seen as a demotion by many—to the Ministry of the Presidency.

He told reporters, “your serve at the pleasure of the President.”

The Minister did indicate to reporters staking out the sitting of the National Assembly that “it’s a new challenge…Well I must say I am looking forward to the new Ministry.”

Recalling his tenure at the Education Ministry, Dr Roopnaraine told media operatives, “I did, I believe, the best I could in the education Ministry, we got some things achieved. “

He declined to offer a comment on speculations that the move was in relation to his declining health.

The Minister also confirmed for media operatives that the WPA—the party he represents in the APNU/AFC coalition—was never consulted and instead pointed to a meeting with the President, Head of State David Granger, at which point the request was made.

The announcement of Roopnaraine’s demotion comes on the same day of Dr Walter Rodney’s 37th death anniversary.

WPA executive, political activist and professor, Dr David Hinds has since indicated that the party will be writing to the President expressing its concerns about the shake-up and to request a meeting.

According to Dr Hinds, one of the party’s concerns relate to the lack of consultations.

Meanwhile, Speaker of the National Assembly, Dr Barton Scotland at the beginning of the sitting of the Assembly formally indicated to the members of the House, the creation of the Ministry of Public Service to be headed by Dr Roopnaraine.

Dr Scotland, read out the instrument issued under the Ministry of the Presidency designating Dr Roopnaraine as Minister of Public Service effective June 14, 2017 and shall remain a member of the Cabinet Counsel of Ministers.

Minister Nicolette Henry, has since been elevated to the Substantive post of Education Minister this past week, declined to speak with media operatives when approached.

She instead, scuttled past reporters gesturing a comment at another time.

The announcement of the Cabinet reshuffle was announced by government this past week by Minister of State, Joseph Harmon who stated that President David Granger had full confidence in the ability of his Ministers and in Roopnaraine.

At the time of the announcement, he said that Roopnaraine’s transfer followed a discussion the former Education Minister had with Granger.