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Likely US-Guyana compromise on democracy project

Guyana and the United States (US) appeared to have found a middle-ground on the way forward for the American-funded Leadership and Democracy (LEAD) project, as top representatives from both sides are expected to jointly brief the media.

Head of the Presidential Secretariat, Dr. Roger Luncheon announced that he and US Ambassador, Brent Hardt would brief the media on the media on LEAD on Thursday morning. Asked if the briefing signals that “some sort of compromise” has been reached by both sides, Luncheon said:

“This is a good- what should I say- supposition. Yes, and I think we would use that opportunity. We plan to use that opportunity to update the media,” he told reporters at a news briefing.

Luncheon declined to say whether the project would be going ahead, instead saying that both sides have agreed on what would be said Thursday morning. “A constructive engagement has always been the desire of the government o Guyana I would want to believe that also mirrors the intent of the US government,” he said.

He also declined to say whether LEAD Chief of Party, Glenn Bradbury would again be allowed to work legally in Guyana. His work permit was revoked more than one week ago, bringing to a head a quarrel between the US and Guyana over whether the Donald Ramotar administration had been consulted about the US$1.2 million project.

The Head of the Presidential Secretariat has, however, maintained that government has never beej consulted about the project. “We were never ever a party to any discussion with the authorities of America on this LEAD project,” he said. He also rubbished suggestions by the American Ambassador that LEAD almost mirrors the thrust of a 2009 agreement titled “Governing Justly and Democratically” between the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Guyana government. “Cabinet rejects in its entirety any submission by the Ambassador that that USAID LEAD project was the subject of any agreement between the Government of Guyana and USAID,” he said.

He insisted that LEAD was conceived, designed and approved without any reference to the Guyana government and the Washington DC-headquartered International Republican Institute (IRI) was hired by USAID to implement LEAD long before the administration was notified in late 2012.

The embassy here has said 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.

The governing PPP has claimed that LEAD representatives have been approaching that party, University of Guyana and several parliamentary committees without going through their heads. Additionally, that party has said that LEAD was being used to  strengthen the political opposition.