President Irfaan Ali’s behaviour moves from concerns to embarrassment

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Guyana has definitely had a free fall from Forbes Burnham, Desmond Hoyte and Cheddie Jagan to now Irfaan Ali. What an embarrassment Guyana faces in the international arena. There was a time when world leaders yearned to hear the opinions of our Guyanese political leaders. We led at the Non-Aligned Movement, CARICOM, and in South-South cooperation. Now, at every forum, Guyana stumbles.

President Irfaan Ali’s poor performance in September at the United Nations cannot be overemphasised. It has to be seen as the reflection of a president who was never committed to what he was asked to say. It is for reasons of this nature that his action can never be believed that he is committed to welding this nation.

At the present COP26 Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, Scotland, Guyana again failed to take a commanding position. The president not only failed to speak for us, but his appearance was far from what the people of this nation are accustomed to seeing in their President, particularly at an international forum.

The president is hereby reminded that image and presentation of self matters. One’s deportment reflects what he or she represents. Regardless of our politics, Burnham, Hoyte and Jagan distinguished themselves by way of deportment and presentation on the international stage. Whether we voted or not for this government, like or dislike the government, on the international scene Ali is perceived as representative of all Guyanese.

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Surely, after 23 years in office, the PPP/C has the experience and understanding of how any Head of State should be presented and can be perceived in such international fora. Whether one voted or not for Ali and regardless of what one thinks of him, he speaks on behalf of and is the representative of the collective- all Guyanese.

His presentation is moving from concern to national disgrace and one can easily be led into believing that such presentation is deliberately oversighted by those with responsibility for such protocols. The average eye can easily see that he needs well-fitted clothes. One should not allow him to parade on the international scene like the fairytale emperor. It does us no good.

Prime Minister Mia Mottley, of Barbados, comparatively making a much better physical presentation, though not outstanding, has the benefit of conducting herself and presenting her country’s position on issues of import in a way that garners her regional and international respect, and admiration. Given the protocols of public behaviour at such fora, and in this era of gender sensitivity where persons are encouraged to respect the physical space of others, especially those of the opposite gender, he must rethink his conduct.

Our Guyanese leader will do well with some coaching, lest he creates embarrassment for himself, his family, and this country with his unnecessary touching, leaning and hugging of Mottley. He should not be fooled into comfort if she does not object. Such behaviour in the 21st century is deemed unacceptable. The President should be so informed and guided. This kind of juvenile behaviour is for the boys’ club or his house party but not even that in these times.

Ali’s performance, local and international, is as result of failure of sections of this society to hold him accountable in lifting the bar. This president has taken more than a year to come to his senses in understanding that the Constitution of Guyana mandates him engaging with the Leader of the Opposition. He has refused to discharge this constitutional duty and has been goaded and supported by some with their ill-informed position that the Leader of the Opposition must first publicly acknowledge him as being democratically elected before engagement could commence. For more than a year he has held this nation’s hostage with his political immaturity and repeated folly. He continues to put at stand still important constitutional aspects of the nation’s business and embarrass us on the international scene.



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