US Congress members raised concerns about economic inclusion with Pres Ali, to mount mission to Guyana- Jeffries

Last Updated on Saturday, 16 September 2023, 13:23 by Denis Chabrol

United States Democratic Minority Leader, Congressman Hakeem Jeffries on Saturday said he and other members raised with President Irfaan Ali the need for Indo and Afro-Guyanese to benefit from economically.

“During the meeting we discussed several critical issues, including regional and energy security, the climate crisis and the importance of an inclusive society in Guyana that involved full economic participation and civic engagement by Guyanese-Africans and Guyanese-Indians,” he said in a statement.

This contradicts starkly an account by Foreign Secretary Robert Persaud who had said categorically that nothing about inclusion had been raised in those talks.

Congressman Jeffries added that, “We will continue to encourage the government and the opposition to work together to ensure that all Guyanese citizens, regardless of race or ethnicity, benefit from the economic growth underway in the South American nation.”

Mr Jeffries on Saturday said he and other House Members would be visiting Guyana to hold talks with the opposition.

“In the next few weeks, a delegation of House Members, myself included, will meet with leaders of the Guyanese opposition party to continue our dialogue about the opportunities and challenges confronting the Republic of Guyana and other nations within the African diaspora in the Western Hemisphere,” he said.

The Democratic Minority Leader said the members of Congress also “discussed electoral reform, strengthening democratic institutions and the need to bolster access to banking and financial services in the Caribbean region.”

The opposition has been demanding that Guyana’s Constitution be amended to allow for fresh house-to-house registration and for the law to be amended to permit the use of biometric verification of voters at polling stations. A Partnership for National Unity+Alliance For Change said those changes would reduce voter impersonation and multiple voting in the names of deceased persons and emigrants.

Thutsday’s meeting saw several leading congressional members with expertise in foreign affairs, finance, security and other critical issues to the Western Hemisphere and the Caribbean-American community in Brooklyn and across the United States meeting with President Ali and his delegation.

Congressman Jeffries had previously publicly called on the President Ali’s People’s Progressive Party Civic-led administration to end discrimination and ensure inclusion.

A number of opposition-aligned organisations, including the Caribbean Guyana Institute Democracy, are spearheading the holding of a conference on Guyana layer this month.

Mr Jeffries is expected to address that two-day event.

The largely Indo-backed Guyana government has repeatedly denounced claims of racial discrimination against Afro-Guyanese.