APNU’s Backer urges recall of Lall, Gajraj
…laments Rohee’s systematic destruction of Foreign Service
By Gary Eleazar
In her first presentation as Shadow Minister of Foreign Affairs Minister, Deborah Backer, of A Partnership for National Unity (APNU), has urged the government to immediately recall Kellawan Lall and Ronald Gajraj, its Ambassadors in Brazil and India respectively, with “competent, highly skilled and experienced diplomats,” taking into account the importance of the two nations in the global trade arena. There was particular reference to the economic significance of the BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa).
Backer said that as it relates to the preparedness of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and its pursuit of Trade and Investment, “given the global economic rearrangement that has seen the emergence of the BRICS countries and other emerging nations, APNU believes that it is imperative that our missions in Brazil and India be headed by our most accomplished and highly qualified diplomats who can take a lead role in encouraging trade and investment in Guyana.”
The Attorney and Former Shadow Home Affairs Minister, Backer told the Speaker in her address that, “Sir, by no stretch of imagination can the words accomplished and highly qualified’ be attributed to either High Commissioner Kellawan Lall or Ronald Gajraj.”
As such she said that APNU is demanding that the government quickly remove and replace the envoys at the two missions which she said “are too critical to be used as rewards for party loyalists who performed poorly in Guyana.”
She said that in the Finance Minister’s Budget presentation, Dr Ashni Singh spoke of the promotion of trade and industry which is listed as a priority focus of the government’s foreign policy, with the primary strategies being the strengthening of bilateral relations with countries with whom we have had traditional ties and are fostering new strategic alliances, with some focus on enhancing economic and social links with our neighbours.
She said that upon hearing this from the Minister the question that immediately springs to mind is “has our Ministry of Foreign affairs through our overseas missions and its staff at Takuba Lodge been prepared for this most critical task?”
Backer said that it is an undeniable fact that when the PPP/C took office in October 1992, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was staffed with highly qualified diplomats at the overseas missions and Guyana ‘s Foreign Service was “the envy of our CARICOM sister countries and those further afield.”
The Shadow Foreign Affairs Minister as she made her presentation said that while it is not her intention to dwell on the past, it is worthwhile to note “the removal by the PPP/C administration of 69 Ministry of Foreign Affairs staff, including High Commissioners and Ambassadors within months of assuming office, resulted in the near destruction of this most important ministry.”
She said that this purge or beheading was conducted by none other than the then Foreign Affairs Minister Clement Rohee, and called it a systematic destruction of the Foreign Service.