My political views and commitments are not for sale

My political views and commitments are not for sale

Dear Editor,

I refer to Othneil Lewis’s SN letter of 2020-08-23 (`Shuman’s appointment as advisor conflicts with parliamentary role.”). First, I must point out that Mr Shuman’s appointment does not conflict with the Joinder Agreement of the three constituent parties – ANUG, LJP and TNM. Clause 6 provides that no MP of any of the parties is permitted to join a minority government in order to give it a majority. Since the PPP/C Government is not a minority government, Mr. Shuman’s appointment as Special Adviser on civil aviation does not conflict with clause 6 or constrain him in any way from voting against the government. The agreement also provides that the Joinder Parties will discuss their position on matters in Parliament to decide whether or not to support government’s proposals. I assume that Mr. Shuman will abide by the agreement. But Mr. Shuman is capable of speaking for himself.

I have been accused by Mr. Lewis of returning to the PPP to “nest.” Firstly, I am in employment and a significant contributor to the Government’s coffers by way of income tax on audited accounts. I do not need a “nest,” if by that Mr. Lewis is suggesting that I am seeking resources. Secondly, nothing prevented me from “nesting” in 2018 when ANUG was formed, as the PPP always had a good chance of returning to government. I could have “nested” on a far more comfortable featherbed than special adviser had I returned to the PPP at that time. Instead I joined some fine patriots in ANUG and advocated that neither the PPP nor the APNU coalition should get a majority.

I have been an adviser to successive Ministers of Foreign Affairs since 1994 on the Venezuela-Guyana Border controversy. In that year, I was appointed the Guyana Facilitator to the United Nations Good Officer Process and remained in that position until about 2015-6 when it came to an end. I met with the Venezuelans under the Chair of successive Good Officers for most of this period several times a year seeking to resolve this controversy. The process slowed down and was largely non-functioning from about 2009-2010 onwards.

In 2015 the newly appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Carl Greenidge, invited me to serve on his ministerial advisory committee which I did uninterruptedly until the end of the life of the APNU+AFC government, including accompanying the Minister and his team on three visits to New York in November 2018 for UN sponsored discussions with the Venezuelan Government. No one accused me of wanting to “nest” with the APNU+AFC Government.

Mr. Greenidge did not attach any political conditions to my service to him and his government. Throughout the period I was a critic of the Government as well as of the Opposition PPP. On not a single occasion did Mr. Greenidge require me to desist nor did he on a single occasion treat my views other than with the utmost courtesy and respect, as he did with all other views.

The Venezuela-Guyana Border Controversy has been traditionally treated as a non-partisan issue between Government and Opposition. And so do I. Both Government and Opposition apparently believe that I have something to offer in relation to this matter in which I have been engaged for 26 years and about which I have written even longer.

I wish to assure Mr. Lewis and everyone else that my political views and commitments are not for sale.

Yours faithfully,

Ralph Ramkarran

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