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Guyana gov’t “regrets” US interpretation of tribute resolution for Abdul Kadir

Inside Guyana’s National Assembly’s Chamber

The Guyana government on Monday said it regretted the United States’ (US) condemnation of the National Assembly’s passage of a resolution in tribute to former lawmaker, Abdul Kadir, who died last year in an American prison where he had been serving life imprisonment for terrorism charges.

“The Government of Guyana regrets the interpretation given to the motion passed in the National Assembly on April 26 on the death of Abdul Kadir, a former Member of Parliament,” government said.

The Guyana government sought to assure that the motion was merely to recognise Kadir’s service as a parliamentarian and not as a convicted terrorist in another country.

“The Government of Guyana asserts that it had no intention of conveying the impression that the motion was designed to honour a former MP convicted of terrorism in another jurisdiction. The motion recognises the member’s service as a parliamentarian,” the David Granger-led coalition administration added.

Government instead said it was committed to the fight against terrorism. “The Government of Guyana continues to condemn terrorism in the strongest possible way. The Government of Guyana reaffirms its commitment to continue and intensify the fight against terrorism in any form and is proud of its record to date in this regard,” the administration said.

According to government, it is a time-honoured convention for the National Assembly to observe, in a standard and solemn form, the work of former Members who are deceased.

“The observance of this tradition has never been selective, and has included, over the decades, persons of all political parties and persuasions who served in the National Assembly,” government said.

Earlier Monday, the US condemned the passage of the resolution in honour of Kadir, saying it has blotted previously hailed efforts by Guyana to fight crime and display religious tolerance.

Kadir was sentenced to life in prison in the US after being found guilty of plotting a 2007 terrorist attack at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York.

Junior Minister of Agriculture, Valerie Patterson-Yearwood, who tabled the motion, told the House that Kadir provided “dedicated service” to the Parliament from April 17, 2001 to May 2, 2006.

“The people of Linden and Guyana have lost a great man, a stalwart, a bold and courageous man so I ask this Parliament, this National Assembly that we direct an expression of its sympathy be conveyed to his sorrowing widow, children, grandchildren and relatives,” she told the House last week Friday.

The US Embassy added that the “Members of Parliament have placed this resolution in direct contradiction to the efforts of security cooperation between our two countries.”

“With this resolution, honoring a convicted terrorist, members of Guyana’s National Assembly have left a stain on their legacy as representatives of the Guyanese people and on their commitment to the rule of law,” the embassy said.

Meanwhile, United Kingdom High Commissioner to Guyana, Greg Quinn tweeted that “The #UK shares the concerns of our #US friends about the ‘honouring’ of convicted terrorist Abdul Kadir. Terrorism affects us all and we believe this action was inappropriate.”

Kadir died in a US prison on June 28, 2018  at the age of 56 and was buried in Guyana on July 12, 2018. The Guyanese politician was also a former Mayor of Linden from 1994 to 1996, an engineer in the bauxite industry and the Guyana Water Inc and member of the bipartisan parliamentary Natural Resources Committee.

Born Michael Seaforth, he converted to Islam in 1974 and married Aisha Roberts with whom he fathered nine children.