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Guyana-US talks on LEAD project “productive”

US Ambassador, Brent Hardt

United States Ambassador, Brent Hardt on Friday suggested that talks with the Guyana government were progressing steadily to resolve differences over the US$1.2 million Leadership and Democracy (LEAD) project.

Speaking with reporters after formally opening a two-day media workshop for University of Guyana students and recent entrants to the field of journalism from a cross-section of media houses, the American envoy, he said the two sides have been holding good talks.

“We had three meetings in the first week of the engagement and they have been in-depth and very, productive meetings. We are getting to understand the different perspectives that had been separating us on this and I think we are making excellent progress,” said Hardt.

The US opted to suspend LEAD and engage the Guyana government in talks after the Donald Ramotar administration suspended the work permit that was issued to Project Head, Glenn Bradbury. Hardt said Bradbury was still here and he was hopeful that the talks would lead to the restoration of his work permit.

The American envoy expressed optimism that following “intense” talks, the two sides would reach agreement in understanding the roles and purpose of LEAD.

No time frame has been set for the completion of the talks but the envoy did not expect it to be prolonged.

The Guyana government has maintained that it has never been consulted about any aspect of LEAD including the United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID) hiring of the Washington DC-headquartered International Republican Institute (IRI) to execute LEAD here.

On the other hand, the US Ambassador has already said that the project is reflective of most of the features of a Governing Justly and Democratically project agreement dating back to 2009.

The American government has said that  LEAD 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.