Oct 29, 2009 News
British ₤4.9M security grant…
The British government yesterday said that its decision to no longer fund a security reform project with Guyana had nothing to do with Georgetown’s refusal to allow British troops to train using live fire at border locations.
Rather, the British government replied that Guyana had changed the design of the project to focus more on Police modernization than the original intention of a total reform of the security sector.
When the British Government announced it was withdrawing from the project, Guyana said the decision by the UK Government “is believed to be linked to the administration’s refusal to permit training of British Special Forces in Guyana using live firing in a hinterland community on the western border with Brazil and Venezuela.”
However, the British High Commission in Georgetown has refuted that statement.
“There is no truth in the suggestion that the decision was linked to a UK military exercise. The decision by the Guyanese authorities (in June 2008) not to allow live firing as part of the exercise was fully accepted.
The exercise took place, successfully, without live firing, in November 2008,” the High Commission stated.
The UK Government said that it fully respects the right of the Government of Guyana to determine the direction of Guyana’s security sector, and any programme for that sector.
The latest proposal from the Government of Guyana for UK Government funding for the security sector suggests a fundamentally different programme from the one we understood the Government of Guyana wanted, the British High Commission stated.
This understanding was based on President Bharrat Jagdeo’s letters of May 4, and August 14, 2006 which called for comprehensive, broad based, non-partisan and compelling reform of the security sector, according to the High Commission.
“The latest proposal from the Government of Guyana suggests a focus on police modernisation, rather than on holistic security sector reform. After careful consideration, the UK Government therefore decided to withdraw its offer of assistance in this area,” the British High Commission stated.
The High Commission noted that this decision was not taken lightly and was explained in person to President Bharrat Jagdeo and in writing to Head of the Presidential Secretariat Dr Roger Luncheon.
As a result, the British said that it has re-allocated the £4.9 million to “other pressing needs within the Caribbean.”
The Government of Guyana in a statement issued Tuesday evening, said the decision of the UK Government was regrettable.
The Government’s statement was issued by Dr Luncheon. He said that as late as December 2008, the two parties had agreed on a design and this was submitted to the principals in the UK for their blessings.
“In April 2009, Guyanese were advised about the redesign that was unilaterally carried out by the UK when they submitted their response to our joint December 2008 submission. This design violated the sovereignty of Guyana,” Luncheon stated.
This was drawn to the attention of the British High Commission here in Guyana and after efforts it was agreed that the government would submit its revised version of the British design, he said.
The President was involved in that activity and ultimately the British High Commission was presented with a document that in great detail outlined what was the Guyanese version of the model to be used to design and ultimately to implement the Security Sector Reform project.
“Lo and behold the President was involved in the discussion surrounding the new design submitted by the Guyanese team when he was informed that the project itself had been halted and the UK Government had provided him with information saying that they were not interested in pursuing an agreement with the Government of Guyana,” Luncheon stated.
He said, “It is tempting to believe that this about face from the December 2008 joint agreement to what happened in the middle of 2009 might have been associated with some decision that the Guyanese Government made with request to training by the UK Special Forces, on a Western border location with live firing to which the government was unprepared to support.”
“It could be that the UK Government did not fully appreciate how dearly held was our position on the non-violation of the sovereignty of Guyana. Their insistence in installing in their design in April, features management features that seriously compromise Guyana’s ownership and when our new design re-established ownership that was more consistent with our notions of sovereignty, the plug was pulled,” the Government of Guyana stated.
Dr Luncheon said that security sector reform will continue in Guyana, “maybe at a different pace and the scope and the design will be different, but the implementation of that will be from public funds from the Government of Guyana.”
The British Ggovernment said it remains committed to supporting the development of Guyana and the Caribbean and will continue to work closely with the Government of Guyana on economic growth, private sector development, and to support the country’s efforts to implement the Low Carbon Development Strategy.
Was Jagdeo honest when he made those promises?
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