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Gov’t failed to check out Charrandass Persaud “signs” leading up to no-confidence vote

Congress Place, the headquarters of the People’s National Congress Reform.

The People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR), the major partner in the governing coalition, on Friday admitted that it had failed to aggressively go after information that had been circulating that one of its lawmakers would have voted for the opposition-sponsored no-confidence motion that could see fresh general elections by March next year.

PNCR Central Executive Member Aubrey Norton indicated that government was careful about violating the human rights of citizens by being too intrusive in persons’ affairs.  He said from the time Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo filed the no-confidence motion in late November, information had been circulated that someone would have been bribed but could not pinpoint who would have been the defector.

“Obviously, there was information. People knew that something was afoot but to say that ‘this was the individual’. Some people argue that there were some signs that we missed. For instance, I don’t know how true it is, he sold his car, he was doing a number of things, from that standpoint I think we could have put things under watch, more scrutiny.

“But you know when you want to operate in a democratic society, you have to be very careful how you accuse people or else you might be accused of being a state that isn’t democratic,” he said.

Asked whether government was being too careful, Norton remarked that “sometimes it is good to err on the side of caution”.

Norton now alleges that Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo was at the centre of bribing Persaud to vote ‘yes’. Jagdeo has already rubbished such claims and Persaud has denied being paid. However on a Facebook video post from Canada, he questioned what was wrong if he was paid.

He pointed to Persaud’s recent praise of government in his contribution to the 2019 National Budget debate. “One of the things about betrayal is that it has to be cloaked in deceit and he has mastered that,” Norton, a seasoned Guyanese politician said.

“We did have information that suggested what was happening but you’re operating in a coalition in which the AFC [Alliance For Change] said that their supporters would be with us. They, themselves, were shocked and so I cannot say to you that anyone would have been able to decipher that this is the person who will do it but it happened,” he said.

The PNCR Executive Member would not be drawn into comment on whether the PPP won the no-confidence motion, as has since been documented by the Parliament Office and dispatched to the Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo, and the Minister of State, Joseph Harmon, in the form of a positive resolution. However, Norton said legal opinions suggest that the vote could be interpreted by the court that it is 33-32 or that it should be 33 plus 1. “What we have seen out there are a number of legal opinions which can carry it in any direction. We cannot decide which direction it will go; we can say at this stage we are disposed to looking at all options and if [sic] checking the mathematical numbers in the Law Court then so be it,” he said.