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US Ambassador a “meddler” ; govt calls off LEAD project

US Ambassador, Brent Hardt

The Guyana government and the ruling party have upped pressure on the United States (US), labelling the American Ambassador a “meddler” and for the first time categorically stating it does not want the US$1.5 million Leadership and Democracy (LEAD) project.

In a statement to mark World Press Freedom Day 2014, the Peoples Progressive Party Civic (PPPC) criticized the envoy for not condemning the opposition’s non-approval of funds for the state-owned National Communications Network (NCN) and the Government Information Agency (GINA).

“US Ambassador to Guyana, Mr.  Brent Hardt, a known meddler in local politics, must be rebuked for his assertion that censorship of the media is practiced by the Government, at the same time he purposefully ignores the opposition slashing of the budgetary resources for NCN and GINA. This exposes the political duplicity of this individual,” said the party in a statement.

Hardt on Friday slammed government for shutting out criticisms from NCN and the Guyana Chronicle, but Attorney General  Anil Nandlall stayed clear of those specific criticisms when he addressed a reception after the Ambassador.

Calling the Ambassador a meddler and suggesting that he has been taking the side of the opposition came days after the Guyana government announced that it has revoked the work permit of LEAD’s Chief of Party, Glenn Bradbury.

While Head of the Presidential Secretariat, Dr. Roger Luncheon had said that Bradbury’s visa was revoked because he had violated Guyana’s immigration laws, President Donald Ramotar was forthright and added that the country has no need for the LEAD project.

“, “… we never agreed to it, we were never consulted, we were not part of any forum on this programme …we do not need it in our country, at this point in time, that is why we took the unusual position that we have taken,” Ramotar was quoted as saying by the Government Information Agency (GINA).

The PPP has charged that the US has been using the project to improve the electoral fortunes of the opposition.

On the other hand, the American embassy here has explained that LEAD is  is designed to benefit the Government and people of Guyana through the promotion of understanding and consensus-building within the National Assembly; greater citizen engagement with Parliament; civic education on local government and greater civic engagement among women and youth.