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At his press conference Saturday, President Irfaan Ali attacked the United States (U.S) Fact-Finding Mission to Guyana in a manner that had no merit and subsequently proved invalid. Having initially engaged Dr. Dee Dawkins-Haigler, leader of the 12-member team, who President Ali told he was looking forward to meeting the group, on the eve of their arrival he did a volte face.
In a statement issued on Saturday, 11th November, the day prior to the team’s departure from the U.S, the Government cried wolf, accusing the team of having an association with the U.S based Caribbean Guyana Institute for Democracy (CGID) and the organisation’s President Rickford Burke. According to the Government, “this delegation and the intended visit appear to have resulted from a conference organised by Rickford Burke, a Guyanese residing in Brooklyn, New York,” The Government has also accused Guyanese-American Burke, who has not returned to Guyana for more than 25-years, of being a “criminal” and has issued a “Wanted Man” bulletin for him.
U.S Fact-Finding delegation and CGID deny knowing each other
Dawkins-Haigler, in an interview with Mark Benschop, host of “Straight Up” programme, said she was in personal contact with President Ali about the trip, updated him along the way, and Ali said he was looking forward to meeting the team. Dawkins-Haigler expressly stated during Benschop’s interview the delegation had no association with CGID or Burke and the two are in no way associated with the visit. CGID also issued a statement denying any association with the delegation.
At the press conference, last Monday at the Critchlow Labour College, the U.S delegation reiterated its claim. Dawkins-Haigler, who is President/CEO, Organisation of World Leaders Former Chair, Georgia Legislative Black Caucus– and co-led the delegation with Rep John King III (SC)- also reiterated the team’s independence, making known the delegation is an unbiased fact-finding mission, whose intent is to use insights gained from meetings with the Government, Opposition and other stakeholders in society, across ethnic and political diversity.
The team further made known the information gathered during the visit would be used “to inform and guide discussions with relevant leaders in Congress and the White House upon their return to the United States.”
The delegation also stated, at its Monday’s press conference, whilst members would have liked to meet the Government, Ali’s decision not to meet and the nation’s sovereignty are equally respected.
However, whilst the government stayed away from meeting the team, the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) councillors last Friday, disrupted a Linden town hall meeting. In mob-like behaviour, PPP councillors and PPP aligned recently appointed town clerk, in very loud aggressive and abusive manner obstructed the meeting and blocked the doorways. Their lawless and disorderly behaviours forced premature end to the meeting.
President Ali’s about face (volte face)
President Ali at his press conference, on Saturday 18th not only ignored the unbecoming behaviours of his party councillors but doubled down on the behaviours. In his usual verbally abusive manner Ali told reporters:
“I proceeded to send to her [Dawkins-Haigler] every single report; the Commission of Inquiry into the elections, the EU report, the CARICOM report, the OAS report, and the communication went blank. I then invited her to examine our three branches of government, to examine our house lot allocation programme, and she then told me that this seems to be like the problem they face in the United States, of propaganda and mistrust, but she never corrected that press statement, which I found to be very dishonourable.”
Ali did not address Dawkins-Haigler’s claim he told the team he was looking forward to meeting them. The statement he made at Saturday’s press conference is also different from the one the Government issued two Saturdays ago. Two Saturdays ago, Government blamed CGID and Burke for not meeting the team. Last Saturday government shifted the blame to an alleged interaction President Ali had with Dawkins-Haigler. and issuance of a press statement by the team that did not meet his approval.
The 12-member U.S Fact-Finding Mission wrapped up its visit to Guyana Saturday. Due to the hostility the team experienced in Linden on Friday by PPP councillors and agent provocateurs, the meeting scheduled in Buxton, East Coast Demerara, on Saturday was cancelled.