…we ain’t negotiating under duress – Luncheon
The decision by the United States of America’s (USA) Government to proceed with a project that the Guyana Government has already rejected is disrespectful.
“The US Govt. has in essence said to the Government of Guyana, we have no respect for what you said and what you direct and what conclusion you came to… we are going ahead with what we want.”
This is according to Head of the Presidential Secretariat, Dr. Roger Luncheon, who yesterday was asked to provide an update on whether or not the US Government has responded to Guyana’s ‘Note Verbal.’
Dr. Luncheon had earlier informed media operatives that the ‘Note Verbal’ was lodged with the US State Department, asking it to clarify why it was proceeding with a project in Guyana that the Guyana Government had rejected.
He was making reference to the USAID/Guyana – Elections and Political Processes (EPP) Fund, Leadership And Democracy (Lead) Project.
Dr. Luncheon yesterday told reporters that the response from the US essentially called the Government of Guyana to engage its bilateral partner, the US in the discussions on the project and its design.
The Government Chief Spokesperson lamented the fact that it is being asked to discuss the project, even though it is already being implemented by the US, despite Government’s objection.
“I for one feel that this is not an insurmountable matter to be resolved but they are principled ways to address this issue. We ain’t negotiating under duress, we are not going to discuss a project and its implementation while it is being implemented.”
Dr. Luncheon is of the opinion that while much has been said and written about the merits of the project, at this point in time that is of lesser significance.
“What is most significant,” according to Dr. Luncheon, is the fact that the Guyana Government, which is a sovereign authority had declared its position on the project but despite its rejection, a foreign power has decided to ignore this and go ahead with its implementation.
Cabinet, which is the council of Ministers chaired by the President, had rejected the project when it was considered.
Dr. Luncheon had recently described some of the objections made by Cabinet as it relates to the project.
He said that the four components of the project were analyzed by Cabinet and one contained major activities that captured a relationship between USAID and individual political parties in Guyana.
This he said was a source of concern, given that Guyana does not have a public policy by government for the support for political parties.
He said that there is nothing like that in the law nor in practice and the Americans through the project “invited a profoundly sensitive issue.”
Dr. Luncheon said that this is something that has not been dealt with by any post-independent Guyana Government and further “for us represented a usurpation of our authority.”
He said that this was drawn to the attention of USAID which was asked to make the overtures and activities to be a relationship between institutions such as Parliament or the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) and not parties.
Dr. Luncheon had recently castigated the US Ambassador, D Brent Hardt over comments he would have made publicly despite the fact that at the time there was no response to the formal ‘Note Verbal.’
He had said that the Ambassador’s comments were arrogant and contentious.
“Cabinet felt that the Ambassador’s public comments were arrogant, contentious and those utterances that the US Ambassador made indicating that notwithstanding a rejection, a disapproval of the USAID project that they intend to and are implementing the project, is really of severe significance,” said Dr. Luncheon.
According to Dr. Luncheon, the project was conceived and designed, and a contractor procured to implement all before approaching the Guyana Government.
Below is an excerpt of the project outline:
USAID/Guyana – Elections and Political Processes (EPP) Fund, Leadership And Democracy (Lead) Project.
The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is developing a programme to strengthen democratic institutions in Guyana. Through this programme, USAID seeks to strengthen the democratic functioning and characteristics of political parties and the Guyanese National Assembly through the provision of technical assistance.
The objectives are to enhance the technical capacity and functionality of the legislature through the regular use of consultative practices and mechanisms for legislative drafting, analysis, review, and passage. The programme should further reinforce democratic governance in Guyana by broadening political participation through more representative and competitive multi-party engagements. This programme will include a particular focus on women and youth.
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