Former President David Granger has rejected an invitation from his successor, President Irfaan Ali, to attend a meeting scheduled for December 15, 2020, that is aimed at bringing together all former Guyanese Presidents to discuss ways in which they can work together to develop the country.
This was indicated in a statement issued by the People’s National Congress Reform – the largest party in the APNU/AFC coalition and of which Granger is the leader. While the former President acknowledged the invitation from Minister of Governance, Gail Teixeira, to attend a “working lunch” on Tuesday at State House, he is asking that the engagement be deferred.
It was noted that there is not enough explanation as to the purpose of the meeting nor an agenda for review before the engagement.
“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 missive detailed.
When he first announced the meeting last week, President Ali had stated that it would serve as an opportunity for the former Guyanese leaders to share ideas and work towards Guyana’s development.
“It will be an open-floor meeting, where we’ll bring together all the former Presidents. I think that it’s an opportunity for us to continue to share ideas, generate ideas; for us to talk about how we see Guyana’s development, different perspectives and then to work out a model and a framework on how we engage in the future and how we will have continuous contributions,” the Head of State had explained.
According to the statement on Friday, however, Granger said it would be a huge public disappointment for the proposed high-level meeting to take place without addressing pressing public issues such as the high death rates from the COVID-19 pandemic and other governance issues, which he said can have consequences for Guyana’s short-, medium- and long-term national development.
“[Granger] 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. He recommended, therefore, that the meeting intended to be held on Tuesday 15th December 2020 be deferred until these important issues could be satisfactorily settled,” the missive outlined.
Only Thursday, President Ali told reporters that he is hopeful for a fruitful meeting next week and the presence of all former Presidents.
“I’m very confident that it will be a fruitful engagement and that all of Guyana will see all the former Presidents acting responsibly and be a part of that [meeting],” the President posited at an event at the European Union (EU) residence.
The current four former Guyanese Presidents are Samuel Hinds, who briefly served as President in 1997; Bharrat Jagdeo, who served as Head of State from 1999 to 2011 and is currently a Vice President in the Ali Administration; Donald Ramotar, who served as President from 2011 to 2015, and David Granger, who served from 2015 to 2020.
Already, former Presidents Ramotar and Hinds have confirmed to this publication that they will be attending the meeting. Former President Jagdeo is also likely to attend.
Earlier this week, PNC’s General Secretary, Amna Ally, had snubbed the invitation extended by President Ali after she was previously contacted by this publication for a comment on the initiative.
Ally had poured cold water on the President’s invite and reiterated her party’s non-recognition of the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) Government.
Nevertheless, the Head of State on Thursday reaffirmed his Government’s commitment to inclusivity but posited that “If we are to grow as a people, this has to be a two-way street.”
President Ali assumed office as Guyana’s 9th Executive President in August following five months of electoral and political deadlock following the March 2, 2020 General and Regional Elections.
The former David Granger-led APNU/AFC Administration had refused to concede defeat at the March 2 polls and demit office. In fact, even after a National Recount confirmed the People’s Progressive Party/Civic electoral victory, the coalition continued with its delay tactics by moving to the courts.
It took mounting international and local pressure for the new Government to be finally sworn into office on August 2, 2020.