Dr Luncheon says… : U.S. Ambassador has tested government’s mettle : – accuses him of persistently peddling the line that Gov’t approved the LEAD project
HEAD of the Presidential Secretariat, Dr. Roger Luncheon has criticised the United States Ambassador to Guyana Mr Brent Hardt for “persistently peddled the line” that the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Leadership and Democracy (LEAD) Project was approved, through a 2009 agreement with the Government of Guyana.
He said Government also views with “considerable distaste” the misrepresentation, in certain sections of the media, that flows from such an erroneous contention by the U.S. Ambassador.
Speaking at his weekly post-Cabinet Press briefing at Office of the President, Shiv Chanderpaul Drive, in Georgetown, Dr Luncheon said this unacceptable interpretation by the ambassador, who has “tested government’s nerve and mettle”, is merely designed to create confusion.
“Cabinet rejects, in its entirety, any submission by the ambassador that that project was the subject of any agreement between Government and USAID. The Government maintains that, the project was concealed, designed and approved without any reference, any notification to the Government of Guyana,” Dr Luncheon stated.
He said the Government is contending that the services of the International Republican Institute (IRI), the implementing agency for the project, were procured through tender by the U.S. authorities long before the Guyana Government was notified about it in late 2012.
“Cabinet objects to any resort to the use of their provisions of the 2009 Government of Guyana/USAID agreement to provide some legitimacy for this unfortunate act, this unilateral act, this act of imposition by the U.S. authorities,” Dr Luncheon maintained.
He announced that he and the U.S. Ambassador have agreed to jointly appear before the press, today, to provide an update on the LEAD project.
Dr Luncheon would not provide any details of what would be discussed today when the two meet, at Office of the President, but only said that both sides have agreed to what would be disclosed.
“I feel that a constructive engagement has always been the desire of the Government and I would want to believe that, that also mirrors the intent of the U.S. Government,” said the HPS.
Just recently, the visa and work permit of IRI resident Country Director, Glenn Bradbury were revoked, but he is still in Guyana. Bradbury, who has been here since September 25, 2013, was responsible for implementing the LEAD programme.
Dr Luncheon reported yesterday that Bradbury’s situation is “unsettled business” and certain issues will be resolved shortly.
The HPS anticipates that all of these issues will be put forward today.
USAID had intended to develop a programme to strengthen democratic institutions in Guyana through the functioning and characteristics of political parties and the National Assembly by the provision of technical assistance.
The objectives were to enhance the technical capacity and functionality of the legislature through the regular use of consultative practices and mechanisms for legislative drafting, analysis, review and passage.
The programme was slated to further reinforce democratic governance in Guyana by broadening political participation through more representative and competitive multi-party engagements. It also included a particular focus on women and youth.
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“Cabinet rejects, in its entirety, any submission by the ambassador that that project was the subject of any agreement between Government and USAID. The Government maintains that the project was concealed, designed and approved without any reference, any notification to the Government of Guyana.” – Dr Roger Luncheon