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…Writes Ali insisting on need for structure, proper agenda
By Svetlana Marshall
Former President and Leader of the A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC), David Granger has deferred a meeting with former presidents next week Tuesday, insisting that he would not participate in any such engagement that does not have structure and a carefully crafted agenda.
As such the former Guyanese leader has recommended to President Irfaan Ali that both sides should nominate a high-level team that will work out a structure for the engagement and the agenda. Sources told the Village Voice News that Mr. Granger has already dispatched a letter to President Ali on his views and is eagerly awaiting a response.
Last Friday, President Ali disclosed that he had invited the country’s former presidents – David Granger, Bharrat Jagdeo, Donald Ramotar and Samuel Hinds – to a high-level meeting on December 15, 2020 to discuss Guyana’s development. “It will be an open floor meeting where we will bring together all the former Presidents. I think it is an opportunity for us to continue to share ideas, generate ideas, talk about how we see Guyana’s development and to work out a model and a framework on how we engage on the future and how we have continuous contribution,” the President explained.
However, reliable sources told the Village Voice News that the letter of invitation that was sent out by Minister of Governance, Gail Teixeira did not specify the nature of the meeting, but rather described it as a working lunch. It is against this background that Mr. Granger has reportedly written the President alluding to his comments which sought to explain that the meeting will be on “Guyana’s development” and shared his views on what some of the matters to be discussed should be, the source told the Village Voice News.
“What is the point of going to a meeting where there is no agenda; no structure…with four people all being PPP/C members what is likely to be the outcome if they don’t have an agenda,” the source who is familiar with Mr. Granger’s position said. “He has insisted that if he is to play a role it must be structured,” the source told Village Voice News, adding that Mr. Granger does not feel the approach to the proposed meeting on Tuesday is likely to bring about any success unless it is reviewed.
Several political commentators and letter writers have urged Granger to decline the meeting. Dr. David Hinds, in his weekly Sunday column in this publication, questioned the real purpose of the meeting. “And what is the objective of this meeting. Hinds said Mr. Ali sees three of those ex-presidents at PPP meetings as they all belong to the same party. “He sees Mr. Jagdeo more often as the latter works in his office and belongs to the Cabinet. So, what does he want to say to them that requires the presence of Mr. Granger? Is he inviting Mr. Granger to a PPP executive meeting?” he questioned.
The Political Scientist said while on the surface, the meeting with all the past presidents sounds like a noble undertaking, Guyanese ought not to forget that it was President Ali, who indicated that he will not recognise the Leader of the Opposition, Joseph Harmon until the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) is recognised as a legitimate government.
“The president is looking for a photo-opportunity—pure and simple. He wants to use this confab to signal to the diplomatic community that he is an inclusive leader. It is the kind of window-dressing that has been part of the PPP’s approach to governance since the 1950s,” Dr. Hinds said.
He added: “Since coming to power four months ago it has governed with a political sledgehammer which it has mercilessly used on members and supporters of Mr. Granger’s party. Now, he wants to meet Mr. Granger with three of his comrades at the table—to discuss what? The PPP is playing smart without being clever.” Dr. Hinds said Granger should not attend that meeting. He said any meeting between the president and the opposition must be direct.
Former PNCR Executive, Vincent Alexander who also believes that a meeting of the former presidents will yield little said in a letter to the editor said that in moments of crisis, the parties have usually conferred or the Head of State and the Leader of the Opposition. “Those are the complementary poles in our political system. Those are the appropriate levels for any such meeting. Let the parties (Granger and Jagdeo) meet to inform their creatures (Ali and Harmon) or let the creatures meet and exercise their executive authority. Any other arrangement for dialogue, in Guyana`s circumstance, is maize like and in this instance lopsided and theatrical. It will produce an anti-climax, at best. I would be the happiest person, if proven wrong. However, from my current vantage point, I urge our politicians to stop politicking and put the Nation`s interest first,” Alexander said.