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The Government of India has accredited Mr. Charrandass Persaud as Guyana’s High Commissioner to India. The main opposition, A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC), had issued a protest via letter to the Government of India against his appointment. The APNU+AFC’S contention with Mr. Persaud is that he cannot be trusted after siding with then opposition People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) to cast a vote of no-confidence in the APNU+AFC government of which he was a part. Others see his appointment by the PPP/C government as a reward for that vote.
The truth is, the main opposition’s expression of disapproval would not have amounted to more than registering displeasure, which would have had little or no impact on the Government of India. It needs not be forgotten that Mr. Ronald Gajraj was accredited as High Commissioner to India after being forced to resign as Minister of Home Affairs. His resignation came as a result of public outcries and after a Commission of Inquiry into the extrajudicial killings when he was the minister.
It was the period when the “phantom squad,” as named by then Head of the Presidential Secretariat Dr. Roger Luncheon, reigned supreme. This was a period following the jailbreak on Mash Day 2002; the killings of Axel Williams who was alleged to be a part of the phantom squad; Floyd and George Bacchus, brothers from Lodge; policemen like Superintendent Leon Fraser; the killings of Minister of Agriculture Satyadeow ‘Sash’ Sawh, his family and security guard; the policing killing of University of Guyana student Yohance Douglass, etc.
It was a period of terror. People were afraid to leave their homes, not sure if they were a target or could be innocent victims to the bloody and deadly mayhem. It was so bad even the Western countries added their voices in condemnation which led to Mr. Gajraj’s removal as minister.
The above being said, the APNU+AFC by its protest has registered to the Government of India a significant size of the population does not have confidence in Mr. Persaud representing the interest of the people of Guyana. Though Guyana Ambassadors and High Commissioners are appointed by the government in office, they represent the interest of Guyana and all Guyanese. This is why it is important for these appointments to have political bipartisan support.
It may be important for Guyana to revisit the process of appointing Heads of Mission. This could happen in the National Assembly with the designated appointees, after being identified by the government, appearing before parliamentary committees for hearings. After then the Parliament will vote approving or disapproving the appointment. This approach is utilised in other countries. The process signals to the world that, whilst there may be internal political disagreement on some issues, Guyana’s Heads of Mission have support across the political divide. This is also good for inclusionary democracy and making our political culture less divisive and contentious.
It is to Guyana’s good when government, opposition, civil and civic society examine ways and means of working together and reducing conflicts. This is a diverse country, in almost every facet of our lives, yet there are multiplicity of issues where commonality could and must be found. For example, Guyanese have a unified response towards Venezuela aggression and it matters not which political party is in government. Guyanese should build on this unity not make it an isolated incident