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At a press conference on 19 August, Vice-President Bharrat Jagdeo, seemingly in passing, having identified me as a participant in a forum ‘The Emerging Apartheid State in Guyana’ organised by Cuffy 250, claimed that I was dismissed from his government in 2008 because I was incompetent. This is untrue.
In December 2008, after the press got wind of my resignation from the PPP/C government as of the 31st December 2008, they began to bombard me with suggestions that I was sacked from the government. I explained that I was required to resign from the government and was offered the position as ambassador to Suriname but that this was not finalised as yet. I admitted that it was reasonable to claim that I was dismissed from the cabinet/government.
Around the same time, when then President Jagdeo was at Cheddi Jagan airport on his way out of the country, he called me and began to berate me for telling the press I was sacked, when according to him I was not. I explained the context of my discussions with the media and he insisted that I call a press conference and make the situation clear. I called a small press conference but also called Adam Harris and requested that he arrive a bit earlier because I thought that it would be useful to explain to someone the backdrop to the press conference. He came, we spoke and the press conference was held.
The president and I finally fell out over the position he took on the Caricom/European Union Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA). The Guyana government had invited our Cariforum partners to Guyana and there had been an agreement, which Guyana had vociferously supported, to sign the EPA. But suddenly, without any notification to me as the then minister for foreign trade and cooperation, the president began to make noises of dissent and my colleagues in the region were enquiring how had the collective agreement changed. I informed them that I had no idea that the position had changed. I was due to speak at a meeting at the Conference Center and intended to take the position that the EPA was beneficial to the region and should be supported.
As expected, the president called me and said that it would not do for a minister to be contradicting him in public and I said that I was not aware that the government’s position on the EPA had changed. He said that I would have to leave the Cabinet and claimed that we were always quarreling in the Cabinet and that that was not healthy. I told him that I would always try to convey what I believed to be the correct position on any issue but that I understood his position and had some time previously spoken to Prime Minister Samuels Hinds and Head of the Presidential Secretarial Roger Luncheon about exiting the Cabinet. He then offered me the position as Guyana’s ambassador to Suriname, which I said I would think about. This I did, made some requests that were rejected and so did not accept the position.
PM Hinds became involved because about a year before these events he had invited me to his office to discuss a matter of importance. He said that the Janet Jagan had asked him to inquire of me why the president and I were quarreling so much in Cabinet. I suggested that he was usually there and should know, but also mentioned some other issues. I informed him that I had spoken to the HPS about leaving and the PM tried to convince me that as an Afro-Guyanese it would not be good for me to just pick up and go. I believe that it is after this discussion that I went to Dr. Luncheon for a second time and pointed to another opening, which he explained was not really an opening. This then is an account of the context of and why I left the Government of Guyana.
That said, I try not to criticise too strongly the leaderships of the PPP or PNCR, because at the end of the day one will have to get them to sit at the table together if Guyana’s political problems are to be solved. However, my achievements speak for themselves and I find it preposterous that a person with as weak a record as Bharrat Jagdeo would call me incompetent.
In a nutshell:
Jagdeo has not won a single national election since Janet Jagan died and after decades in the top political leadership role, according to an International Republican Institution study supported by his government, only about 22% of the Guyanese believe that the PPP government is democratic.
He came to the presidency in 1999 and between then and 2005 Guyana’s economy stagnated. He had to rebase the economy and overnight it grew by some 65% to make a reasonable showing for the 2006 elections.
During this early tenure, over 400 Guyanese lost their lives as he and the other PPP oligarchs tried to establish ethnic dominance Guyana.
He and the oligarchs had become so blasé that when they lost the elections of 2011, he blamed ordinary PPP members for not working hard enough. When his loss was even larger in 2015, he blamed the PNC for rigging the government from under him without being caught. After losing in 2015, he wanted a new elections list but not so now, having come to realise the opportunities for fraud the bloated list affords.
The Skeldon sugar factory project, which was at the time the largest ever investment in Guyana, was a fiasco, as was the so-called Jagdeo Initiative, which was to make Caricom agriculture blossom and put Guyana on the path of becoming the breadbasket of the Caribbean. Poor President Ali is now left with that basket.
Then, there are the Vice News reports, in which Jagdeo was inculpated in supporting the money laundering and other corrupt activities of ‘his friend’ Mr. Su.
To top it all, under the PPP the political environment in Guyana has become so overbearing that the US government ‘requested’ it attend a meeting in Washington and has had to read the riot act to the PPP leadership. I cannot remember when a government of Guyana been so humiliated.
Let me make it quite clear that if the PPP succeeds in its renewed quest to establish ethnic political dominance in Guyana, the outcomes will not be unlike apartheid. As a result, all Guyana should understand and raise their voices and hands against it.