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Caribbean News Desk for Thu, Jan 15, 2015 …Guyana govt calls outgoing British envoy “pariah” ; says no threat of Commonwealth sanctions

Head of the Presidential Secretariat Dr Roger Luncheon

Government says outgoing UK High Commissioner Andrew Ayre should be accorded the status of “pariah” for his recent comments on the ongoing prorogation of the Guyana Parliament.

Additionally, the Foreign Affairs Ministry claims that Ayre mislead the public during his press conference on Tuesday when he said the non-resumption of Parliament since prorogued on November 10th “is a clear breach of the Commonwealth Charter and a breach of Guyana’s constitution.”

In a release today the Foreign Affairs Ministry said Ayre’s claims made it “necessary for the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Honorable Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett, to engage Commonwealth Secretary General, Mr. Kamalesh Sharma to clarify whether the Commonwealth has made such a determination.”

The Ministry said Ayre’s statements were found to be “most misleading” as Sharma shared with her that “there has been no discussion about the situation in Guyana with the British Government or its High Commissioner in Georgetown or by any other Commonwealth body for that matter.”

“As such, there has been no conclusion by the Commonwealth that Guyana is in breach of the Commonwealth Charter,” the release read.

Meanwhile, Cabinet Secretary Roger Luncheon, during his post-Cabinet briefing today, said that Ayre’s “attempts to damage Guyana’s credibility and its economic prospects is considered by Cabinet to be unpardonable. The sentiment is he needs to be accorded the status of a pariah and his departure eagerly awaited by the government of Guyana,” Luncheon said.

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Further reprimanding the High Commissioner he said “Ayre is terribly dishonorable, knowingly misdepicting prorogation in Guyana as a constitutional crime severe enough to utter that ‘S’ word; Sanctions, that is so banded around today in the international discourses.” He further said such utterances are “deeply offensive,” especially considering the constitutionality of the provision.

“I think the most dastardly act though, is this threat of withdrawal and withholding of development aid. It hurts, not only because they have been instrumental in organizing, in contributing to development aid that Guyana has received over the years from external sources, but the issue of prorogation being elevated to some similarity to the Fijian experiences and being worthy of the imposition of sanctions and threats of withdrawal of developmental aid, that is really taking the matter out of proportion,” Luncheon also said.

It should be noted that Ayre did not equate the Fijian situation to prorogation in his speech, rather, the two were mentioned together in an article emanating from a news outlet.

Asked what he perceived Ayre’s intention to be Luncheon said “It don’t mek sense. Didn’t make sense to the combined wisdom of Cabinet members who, number one, felt that the concerns…are usually shared bilaterally and this resort to press conferences to speak to the government of Guyana has taken on proportions that need to be condemned (as) totally unacceptable in the realm of international diplomacy.”

Even if Ayre had concerns which were not satisfactorily addressed by government, Luncheon said, “to try to justify it by saying that I brought these to the attention of the administration and I got no response ergo this is my parting shot, it indeed justifies our contention of how unpardonable has been his actions.”

Luncheon said that Ayre seems to have followed his the footsteps of former American Ambassador Brent Hardt who, just prior to the expiration of his tenure,  had publicly criticized government on its failure to hold local government elections since 1994. “There must be something about leaving Guyana that encourages Western diplomats, heads of mission to engage in final fetes of folly,” Luncheon lamented. 

High Commissioner Ayre, when asked whether the UK would lobby other Commonwealth member states to address the Guyana situation, had said that already this former British colony was increasingly being considered a country of concern. Ayre had also said that Guyana could be referred to the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group that determines whether member-states have violated the organisation’s political principles.

Bilaterally, the UK envoy has said that his country was unlikely to favour providing funds to Guyana because of a lack of parliamentary oversight due to the suspension of the Parliament in November when the National Assembly was on the verge of passing a no-confidence motion in the government.