Details are emerging now of how Charrandass Persaud, a parliamentarian who rocked Guyana’s politics after voting ‘yes’ in a no-confidence motion that toppled his government, made it to the Ogle Airport on the morning of December 22, last.
Hours after that vote, an officer of the Canadian High Commission accompanied him to the airport, stayed with him through Immigration and ensured that he entered the plane. The plane later left for Barbados where the former Member of Parliament (MP) took a connecting flight to Canada.
Persaud, who has dual Guyana and Canada citizenship, reportedly reached out to the Canadian High Commission shortly after the vote, asking for protection. He was told to go to the consulate at High and Young Streets.
He left via the back gate of the Parliament Building, with his security and advisor to the People’s Progressive Party (PPP), Peter Ramsaroop, and went straight there.
From there, around 3am, he was taken in the High Commission vehicle, in the company of a diplomat to the Ogle Airport.
He was followed by another vehicle that included his security personnel.
At the airport, the diplomat accompanied him to the Immigration, and even ensured that he boarded the plane.
The former MP had earlier refused police protection offered by Minister of Public Security, Khemraj Ramjattan, saying later he could not trust anyone.
He had claimed that after the first vote, he was “threatened” by Government MP, Jennifer Wade, who allegedly told him he was going to die.
During the second vote, a defiant Persaud said ‘yes’ three times, leaving no doubt about what he intended to do with his vote.
The former MP, who was expelled by the Alliance For Change (AFC) following that vote, was contacted yesterday to comment on his request for protection from the High Commission.
He would only disclose that on the night of the vote, shortly after he came out of the Chambers, he made contract with the High Commission for protection.
Government has gone to court challenging the validity of the no-confidence vote given Charrandass Persaud’s dual citizenship..
Government is contesting he could not have legally voted as the Constitution bars locals who pledge allegiance to a foreign power from being MPs.
The police are said to be investigating matters of “national security” involving Persaud, a lawyer from Berbice.
There are allegations that he was paid for the vote. There are a number of things leading up to the vote that the Government, which faces a shortened term, says are coming out now.
For example, the MP gave up his law office in Berbice, and then sold his Toyota Prado vehicle.
The People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR), the biggest party in the APNU faction, said it is investigating links that a Trinidad businessman may have paid off the MP, whose one vote in favour of the motion has seen its passage.
Under the Constitution of Guyana, the passage of the motion means that Government has to resign and hold elections within three months, unless there is an agreement with the Opposition to shift to a later date.
Speaking from the US, Persaud last week insisted that he was not offered any money or any inducements by anybody, inside or outside of Guyana, to vote in the National Assembly,
“Nobody offered me money and I always say that I am not the man that you can buy because my salary if you add it up, how much can they give me? One report said I received US$60M. Another one said I left Parliament the week before to go to Trinidad to meet some oil tycoon and I was paid US$15M.”
According to Persaud, from December 3, last, he could not leave Guyana, as the budget debate had started, right through to the December 14.
The former AFC official, who has harsh words for the AFC, a party he said he sacrificed to put into office, challenged Government to check his bank records.
With regards to the debate on his dual citizenship, which the government is challenging, Persaud disclosed that indeed that he travelled on his Canadian passport.
He dismissed criticisms of Government and noted that the Constitution only warned about loyalty to another country, which would prevent someone to be sitting here in the National Assembly as a lawmaker.
The lawyer said he came back to Guyana in 1998-1999, applying successfully for a remigrant status. He received a duty-free vehicle as part of benefits.
He then “established himself as a law student, then as a lawyer and as a businessman ‘running things’ in Guyana. And again, I was dedicated to Guyana.”
According to the former MP, he had confided in the PPP advisor, Peter Ramsaroop, about his decision to vote yes…because of the man’s military background.
Berbice Law Firm
With regards to his law office in Berbice, the former MP said that he has not sold it.
“First of all, Magistrate (Charlyn) Artiga, now a lawyer, had decided to not continue practising as a magistrate. So I saw an opportunity to start a law firm in Berbice. I spoke to her and she agreed to join me on a partnership, we would participate equally in benefits and expenses.”
However, since the vote and fallouts, Artiga has changed her mind about the law firm.
“As of today, my law office has no lawyer. We were supposed to change the signs. I did not sell the law office. We are paying a rent. The Prado is not sold. The duty-free is up in February. I have put it up for sale. I asked to buy another- a 2018-2019 model. I’m still paying the bank for that.”
The Prado was advertised for sale months now. He says Artiga could confirm details of the law firm venture.
On the night of the vote, Persaud stressed, he did not even have clothes. Clothes had to be brought to the Ogle airport the next morning.
None of his friends and family knew his plans.
With regards to his thoughts on the voting, Persaud said that after the vote, he was scared.
He was seen on video reaching for a glass of water, gulping it. On the second vote, the MP was a clear “Yes…yes…yes”, a shocker for Guyana who was watching
“After the first vote, the Clerk (of the National Assembly) suspended the voting and the government side in Parliament had me scared to death. I swear to God I thought that I was gonna die right then. I was also trying to catch my breath and calm myself down. That was nerve wracking. These people, I know them; I know the nature of the people.”
“In fact, Derick Basdeo, a member of the audience, came up and was seen on camera whispering.
He leaned against me in view of the camera… ‘What the f#&k are you doing…? You know what you doing?’
“These were some of the things I had to face before the second count.”
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