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AFC endorses US-funded project that PPP opposes

The Alliance For Change (AFC) Thursday night endorsed a US$1.2 million United States (US)-funded project that the governing Peoples Progressive Party (PPP) has said is aimed at  bolstering the opposition’s chances.

The AFC also announced that it supports the American administration’s position that the project would go ahead even in the absence of approval from the Guyana government.

“AFC supports the position taken by the US government and looks forward to the positive contribution this project will provide to enhanced leadership and democracy in Guyana. The AFC endorses this project,” said the party which holds seven of the 65 seats in the House.

Cabinet Secretary, Dr. Roger Luncheon has flayed the US Ambassador to Guyana, Brent Hardt, saying that he did not consult adequately with the Donald Ramotar administration before crafting the Leadership and Democracy (LEAD)  project and hiring the consulting firm- International Republican Institute (IRI)- to execute activities.

The AFC dismissed concerns by the PPP and the government that Hardt’s posture violated Guyana’s sovereignty and disregarded State power

“The AFC believes that any effort which enhances democracy promotes, rather than undermines sovereignty and at a time when there has been no local government elections for over fourteen years, and where the country is governed by a minority party which is continuously at war with the legislative arm of the state, any effort which improves the participation of a broader cross section of the population in the decision making process of the country is not only welcomed but necessary,” said that party.

LEAD , the AFC said, was not only useful but necessary at a time when Guyana totters on the brink of a minority authoritarianism. Government has openly stated that it would not recognize motions or assent to Bills passed by the House, which is controlled by the combined opposition 33 seats- one more than the PPP.

Dwelling on the issue of sovereignty, the AFC accused the PPP of being two-faced by conveniently forgetting that it was PPP Founder Leader, Dr. Cheddi Jagan  who not only sought but insisted on the participation of former US President Jimmy Carter in his efforts to enhance democracy in Guyana in 1992.

“The AFC is therefore perplexed by what circumstances might have changed since then that now categorizes efforts at enhanced democracy as a challenge to sovereignty,” stated the AFC.

The PPP-led administration was cautioned against attacking the American Ambassador in what the AFC described as “his newfound political approach of confrontational diplomacy” and called such a posture a “a retrograde step towards full-fledged authoritarianism.”

The AFC queried what could be government’s justification for rejecting the project  that seeks to increase participation of the citizenry in democracy building, consensus building in the National Assembly, funding for research and legal drafting skills for Parliamentarians, women and youth civic education festivals, and local government education and awareness.

In addition to claiming that it has not been properly consulted, government has suggested that the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has violated its agreement with the Guyana government by going ahead with LEAD despite government’s disapproval.

The Ramotar administration has also found objectionable that the project would support individual political parties rather than through parliament and that it would be engaged in policy making activities that could lead to constitutional reform.

The Guyana government has since written to the US State Department, seeking confirmation about whether comments by the American Ambassador in the Stabroek News newspaper reflected the views of the US administration.