Last Updated on Friday, 5 February 2021, 16:04 by Denis Chabrol
Opposition Leader Joseph Harmon has warned the Indian government that Guyana’s proposed appointment of Mr. Charrandass Persaud as High Commissioner could hurt relations between the two Commonwealth member nations.
“The people of Guyana have always enjoyed cordial relations with the government and people of India and we are concerned that Mr. Persaud’s appointment may place a significant strain on this important relationship,” Mr. Harmon told India’s External Relations Minister Mr. Subrahmanyam Jaishankar in a letter dated February 4, 2021.
Although then Home Affairs Minister Ronald Gajraj had been cleared by a commission of inquiry of his alleged involvement in state-sponsored death squads, he had been appointed High Commissioner to India after an outcry by Western Nations over his return at the helm of that ministry.
Mr. Harmon reminded the Indian government that Mr. Persaud on December 21, 2018 had voted for the opposition People’s Progressive Party Civic’s (PPPC)-sponsored no-confidence motion although he had been a member of the then governing A Partnership for National Unity+Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC). “Accordingly, we are of the view that the appointment of Mr. Persaud to such an important portfolio is likely to be viewed by the Guyanese people as a reward for and an endorsement of his treasonous act,” said Mr. Harmon.
The Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), Guyana’s apex court, had ruled that the no-confidence motion had been validly passed with an absolute majority of 33 votes and although Mr. Persaud is also a naturalised Canadian. Guyana’s constitution prohibits dual citizens from being parliamentarians but the time frame within which to challenge Mr. Persaud’s status in the House had long passed.
Registering APNU+AFC’s objection to Mr. Persaud’s nomination as Guyana’s High Commissioner to India in the “strongest possible terms, the Opposition Leader said his former parliamentary colleague “does not enjoy the confidence of a large segment of the Guyanese population and is mired in controversy.”
Mr. Harmon said APNU+AFC supporters, who elected Mr. Persaud to serve as a parliamentarian, continue to be disturbed by his vote for the PPP-sponsored motion “which he took of his own accord, without the consultation
or consent of the constituency he was elected to represent.” After voting for the motion, he was whisked out of Parliament Building through the rear entrance and into a waiting car , and hours later he boarded a flight to Barbados with connection to Canada.
After the CCJ validated the passage of the no-confidence motion, eventually elections were more than one year later and Mr. Harmon’s APNU+AFC was defeated in those controversial polls.
Mr. Persaud, who hails from an agricultural community in East Berbice, had said that he had opted to vote for the no-confidence motion because he could have no longer faced repeated criticisms and live with his conscience that he had been blamed for thousands of sugar workers having been laid off by the APNU+AFC administration.