Granger turns down Ali’s meeting of former Presidents; AFC sets its own conditions

Last Updated on Friday, 11 December 2020, 13:17 by Denis Chabrol

Former President Bharrat Jagdeo, former President David Granger and current President Dr. Irfaan  Ali and Opposition Leader Joseph Harmon. (file photo)

Former President David Granger has turned down an invitation by President Irfaan Ali to a meeting of former Presidents, saying that no agenda was provided for him to prepare for those discussions.

“The Minister’s letter, however, neither explained amply the purpose of the intended meeting nor recommended an agenda for his examination. There was no indication of the preparation that would be needed, the relevance of the engagement to government policies and the outcome that would be expected from deliberations,” the PNCR said in reference to the invitation that was sent by Minister of Governance, Gail Teixeira.

Mr. Granger, according to the PNCR statement, suggested that the meeting slated for December 15, 2020 be postponed until a number of important issues could be satisfactorily settled. They include high rates of deaths as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic; alleged unwarranted dismissals of public servants and alleged harassment of Elections Commission officials and human rights violations.

The former President said it would be a huge public disappointment for the proposed high-level meeting to take place, hurriedly, in an unorganized, unplanned manner and without a predictable prospect of progress or success. “He felt that it would be a blunder to ignore the legitimate concerns of a significant section of the population and the aspirations of the majority of our people, especially those enduring the privations of the pandemic,” the party said.

The Alliance For Change (AFC) says former President David Granger should not attend the planned meeting of former Presidents on December 15 unless President Irfaan Ali proves that he has a first degree.

“Show me your first degree certificate and that is not being farcical or in any way a joke or so. It is a serious matter,” AFC Leader Khemraj Ramjattan  told a news conference.

President Ali has invited the former Presidents to the Working Lunch on December 15 at State House, the official residence of the President.

Questions have been raised about the authenticity of Dr. Ali’s qualifications, after news had surfaced that he had obtained questionable qualifications from a West Demerara business chamber at Uitvlugt, West Coast Demerara. He later went on to obtain a doctorate in Urban Planning from the University of the West Indies.

Mr. Ramjattan says the President must first prove that he has an authentic first degree and be ready to confirm the appointments of Justice Roxane George-Wiltshire as Chief Justice and Justice Yonette Cummings as Chancellor. “Also, enjoin in the confirmation of the Chief Justice and the Chancellor as they presently are in acting positions; that those are conditionalities that I would like to see made before,” Mr. Ramjattan said.

The AFC Leader said it would be up to President Ali to “meet” those conditionalities.

Mr. Vincent Alexander, a former executive member of the Granger-led People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR), said President Ali’s planned meeting is not the promised engagement between the Representative of the APNU+AFC List of candidates, David Granger and his People’s Progressive Party (PPP) counterpart, Bharrat Jagdeo before the declaration of the results. Mr. Alexander also questioned the logic and wisdom of having a meeting of former Presidents in which three would be drawn from the PPP. “Their portfolios and authority haven`t change, why haven`t they followed up on their commitment. Three, past and present, Presidents from one party meeting with the past President from another party rings hallow. What gives them the authority to further the Nation`s business, and what is the likely
outcome of the, three to one, encounter given the polarized nature of our politics?,” said Mr. Alexander a pro-opposition elections commissioner.

Instead, Mr. Alexander suggests recommends that the President and the Opposition Leader meet or be advised by the outcome of talks between the two Representatives of Lists of candidates.  “In moments of crisis, the parties have usually conferred or the Head of State and
the Leader of the Opposition. Those are the complementary poles in our political system. Those are the appropriate levels for any such meeting. Let the parties (Granger and Jagdeo) meet to inform their creatures (Ali and Harmon) or let the creatures meet and exercise their executive authority. Any other arrangement for dialogue, in Guyana`s circumstance, is maize like and in this instance lopsided and
theatrical. It will produce an anti-climax, at best,” he said.

APNU+AFC  had sought to make the qualifications of the President a major 2020 general elections campaign issue, but the PPP had sheltered him for the most part from the media which had seized almost every  opportunity to raise it.

After a five-month wait, the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) declared Dr. Ali the winner of the March 2, 2020 polls. The opposition coalition has since filed two election petitions, but the High Court is yet to decide whether the petitions should be allowed based on alleged flaws in filing the petitions.