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…dismisses question about his fitness for the job
Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo has accused Opposition Leader Joseph Harmon of “threatening India” in his recent letter to their Minister of External Affairs expressing his party’s strong non-support for the appointment of former parliamentarian Charrandass Persaud as Guyana’s new High Commissioner to India.
Nonetheless, on Tuesday, Jagdeo confirmed that Persaud has been slated for the position. When pressed about the qualifications the former Member of Parliament (MP) possesses to have been propelled to the position, Jagdeo disclosed that it was a “political” decision made by his administration.
However, before discussing the same, the Vice President expressed his disdain for the APNU+AFC Opposition, its leader and the letter written to India on February 4, 2021.
The Opposition Leader had written to the Minister stating that his party has reason to believe that Persaud was coerced to cross the floor against his party back in 2018 and that the plan to appoint him as Guyana’s High Commissioner to India will be seen as his reward. Harmon implied that India should refuse Persaud’s appointment on these grounds.
“…we are of the view that the appointment of Mr. Persaud to such an important portfolio is likely to be viewed by the Guyanese people as a reward for and an endorsement of his treasonous act. The people of Guyana have always enjoyed cordial relations with the government and people of India and we are concerned that Mr. Persaud’s appointment may place a significant strain on this important relationship,” Harmon stated.
Jagdeo did not respond favorably to this letter. He questioned rhetorically on Tuesday: “How stupid can you get? How stupid can you get? He is threatening India. I think he had a bad nightmare or something, he still doesn’t know that APNU cannot behave the way it behaved in Office with the level of arrogance.”
The Vice President put forward that in India and elsewhere MPs cross the floor to the opposing party regularly which is all a form of democracy. In Guyana’s case, he stated that Persaud “voted conscience” which he has a right to do if he believes, as the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) did, that the APNU+AFC was damaging the country’s future.
He confirmed that despite protest, Persaud is still being sent to India for the position. “I’m not running the Foreign Ministry but as far as I know, yes, Charrandass is going to go to India…people can say whatever they want,” he said.
However, the media pressed the Vice President further on what were Persaud’s qualifications that saw him receiving the position, if not as a “reward” as claimed by the Opposition Leader.
Jagdeo responded that the Foreign Ministry assessed Persaud who later confirmed that he would be willing to serve in the position. Questioned whether Persaud as a former MP possessed the qualities the Government expects from a High Commissioner, Jagdeo contended:
“Ambassadors can come from two streams. They can come from a political stream or a technical stream. So, in this case, he didn’t come out of the technical stream, he was appointed politically and so, that is the assessment. I’ve seen some Ambassadors who were less-equipped than Charrandass being made Ambassador.”
Persaud’s vote in favour of the no-confidence motion against the APNU+AFC in 2018 was a turning point for the country and would lead to the March 2, 2020, General and Regional Elections, but not after a slew of Court battles climbing all the way up to the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) and seeking to deem the motion as invalidly passed. These were unsuccessful.
Many within the PPP/C now view Persaud as a “national hero” for putting an end to the leadership of the APNU+AFC. However, the Coalition believes that Persaud’s act was one of betrayal which halted the plans of the former Administration for the country.