Dr Luncheon offers to quit after collapse of UK/Guyana security reform pact
…Jagdeo refuses resignation
The British proposal on the Security Sector Reform Action Plan totally disregarded Guyana’s sovereignty thus leading to the fall out on the project, Head of the Presidential Secretariat, Dr. Roger Luncheon said yesterday.
However, even as Dr. Luncheon is prepared to throw in the towel, President Bharrat Jagdeo has not acceded to his request to abandon the project. As such he is still the main negotiator for Guyana.
Speaking with the media yesterday during his post-Cabinet press conference, Dr. Luncheon said that the British proposal abandons the agreements that were negotiated, specifically on Guyana’s ownership.
He noted that the documents neglect to be in concurrence to what they had agreed upon during the negotiations.
The Head of the Presidential Secretariat added that the British seem to be suggesting that there are capacity constraints in the process of implementation.
“The negotiations were completed. The agreed policy positions were with the British Government from December 2008 until April 2009.”
According to Dr. Luncheon, he was told in April that the document that allows Guyana to implement the policy faithfully, captured what was agreed to in December.
However, it did not, he added. This sentiment was also expressed by members of the National Security Secretariat, which was constituted for this negotiation.
During the negotiations, Dr Luncheon added, both sides recognised the principle of Guyanese ownership of security strategy and the security policy formulation.
“We were not asking for an ‘arm and a leg’…This is a hallowed principle in international relations…What was presented to us in April was offensive, where that was concern.”
What led to this reversal of respect for that principle, that was agreed to on both sides and captured in written documentation, has not been explained, he added.
“We have sought meetings with the High Commission on a number of times and we have been unable so far to have a meeting held or to have an agreement that is deliberate, categorical as to when such a meeting will take place.”
Both himself and the British, Dr. Luncheon added, signed off the document that constituted the policy position.
He said that the Guyana Government was told that the signed off document has to be sent to the principals for it to be adopted.
When asked how such a disagreement will impact on the two governments’ relationship, Dr. Luncheon said that it will not lead to a significant deterioration.
On Thursday, the government withdrew from further participation in the SSRP being funded by the United Kingdom Government.
In a letter sent to British High Commissioner to Guyana, Fraser Wheeler, Dr. Luncheon, stated that he has lost faith in the process and is increasingly convinced of ulterior motives on the part of the representatives of the Government of the UK.
This letter surfaced one day after Wheeler blamed the administration’s bureaucracy for delaying the implementation of the plan.
A recent British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) report stated that Guyana can lose £3M sterling (US$4.7 M).
The warning came amidst a disagreement between the two countries on how to properly manage the funds that have been set aside for the Security Sector Reform Programme (SSRP).
The SSRP, whose Interim Memorandum of Understanding was signed in August 2007, is aimed at improving police operations in crime hot-spots, forensics, crime-intelligence and traffic policing.
Wheeler told the media on Monday last that the reform implementation process is ‘unfortunately going slowly’. He said that his government’s frustration with the pace of implementation was shared with President Bharrat Jagdeo.
The High Commissioner pointed out that the money has been ‘hanging around for a long time’.