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Opposition can discuss oil sector with govt in Parliament; no talks with Harmon unless he recognises govt— Ali

Last Updated on Thursday, 4 March 2021, 21:16 by Denis Chabrol

President Dr. Irfaan Ali

President Irfaan Ali on Thursday said A Partnership for National Unity+Alliance For Change’s  (APNU+AFC) could offer political support to jointly address issues concerning the oil and gas sector at the parliamentary level.

At the same time,  Dr. Ali  again rebuffed calls by Opposition Leader Joseph Harmon for consultations, saying that he would only meet if the former Minister of State agrees that he erred by stating that the government legitimate.

“They can make all their suggestions in Parliament. There are parliamentary committees and so on. What Mr. Harmon needs to do is the right thing: to correct the mischief that he embarked on by trying to push a narrative that he knows is so false and recognising there is a legitimate government and a legitimate President,” the President told reporters.

APNU+AFC frontbencher, David Patterson, during last week’s National Budget debate, publicly offered to jointly work with the Ali administration to address issues such as the Production Sharing Agreement with oil companies. ““We are willing to offer our support in presenting a united position so that jointly we can address the alleged inadequacies of the contract and any other documents including the environmental permit,” Mr. Patterson has said.

Asked whether the Opposition Leader has not implicitly recognised the government when he wrote him in his capacity as President, Dr. Ali doubted that Mr. Harmon had ever penned him a letter. “He said he wrote me doesn’t mean he wrote me,” the President said.

Joseph Harmon.

Pressed on whether Mr. Harmon had written him, the President did not respond to that question but instead reiterated that, “I am saying to you now that the Leader of the Opposition needs to recognise the government and the President and I don’t want any implicit recognition. He must go out there publicly and say that the government is legitimate and he is recognising  the President and then let’s talk,” he said.

Throughout the APNU+AFC’s contribution to the budget debate, several speakers heaped criticism on the government for not consulting with the opposition before and at the same time repeatedly stated that the Ali administration was installed by local and foreign business and political interests.

APNU+AFC has accused Dr. Ali’s People’s Progressive Party (PPP) of cheating the elections by exploiting a voters’ list that is padded with the named of migrants and deceased persons, and the absence of key documents to reconcile ballots found in ballot boxes.

One of two election petitions has been given the green light for a hearing, while the other was thrown out by the High Court on a technicality because  APNU+AFC Representative of the List had written a wrong date on one of the filing documents. An appeal has since been filed.

The opposition has also complained that is not being consulted although it represents a huge block of voters.  Instead, the business community and small political parties that contested the March 2, 2020 general elections are being consulted and included on a number of decision-making fora.