As international pressure mounts on the Government of Guyana’s parliament for honoring convicted terrorist, Abdul Kadir, government Chief Whip Amna Ally said a policy decision might be taken to guide how such situations should be handled in the future.
“Except we take a policy decision, we have to reexamine and look at it ” she said when asked whether the House would continue to honour former lawmakers convicted of any crime.
She said government was open-minded on dealing with the fallout from the motion that paid tribute to Kadir for his stint as a parliamentarian for the People’s National Congress Reform from April 17, 2001 to May 2, 2006.
“So many people have came up and have different views and we are not a government which will just put a blanket on things. We are going to listen; we are going to examine it and have discussions and see where we take it from there,” she told reporters.
Ally’s disclosure came even as Canada joined the European Union, Britain and the United States in condemning Guyana’s Parliament for honoring Kadir.
Canada said, “Canada is disappointed that members of Guyana’s National Assembly have paid tribute to former MP Abdul Kadir, a convicted terrorist.”
The European Union said, “The EU Delegation notes with surprise the honoring of former MP Abdul Kadir in the National Assembly of Guyana and believes that eulogizing a person convicted of terrorist acts is inappropriate.”
United Kingdom High Commissioner to Guyana, Greg Quinn recently 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.”
The Guyana government has since expressed regret at the US interpretation of the resolution, saying that it is a convention to table resolutions to honour deceased parliamentarians and not Kadir in his capacity as a convicted terrorist.
On Wednesday, the government Chief Whip said “the US is aware that we have not supported terrorism and we will not support terrorism. It’s an unfortunate situation but it has happened.”
Ally, who is also General Secretary of the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR), said the idea of the policy decision has not yet been discussed by Cabinet.
She explained that the need for a policy has surfaced in light of concerns about the approval of the motion last Friday.
“I’m not saying that it is a done deal. I’m saying now that this has surfaced, maybe we can look and see whether for future,” Ally said.
She recalled that then Home Affairs Minister Ronald Gajraj, who had been accused of serious offences, had been recognised by the House and its sympathy transmitted to his bereaved family. Similarly, she said a motion to recognise former People’s Progressive Party lawmaker Isahak Basir is on the National Assembly although she had years ago moved a motion for his expulsion because he had pelted the then House Speaker with a glass. “It is not that we have taken sides or we support anything sinister,” she said.
The opposition People’s Progressive Party, which boycotted last Friday’s House sitting, had also came out in strong condemnation against the governing coalition for piloting and approving the motion of sympathy for Kadir, with its 33 members.
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.
“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.
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.