Govt accuses Hardt of “inciting insurrection”
The outgoing US Ambassador was inciting an insurrection against the Government when he compared Guyana’s present-day state of affairs to a situation that was faced by his country in 1776 when it was a colony under Britain.
This is according to Education Minister Priya Manickchand, who last Wednesday acted in the capacity of Foreign Affairs Minister and delivered a “feral” blast to Hardt, condemning him for the “alarming” utterances that he made against the Government of Guyana.
“He went rogue, he had gone rogue on this matter and we do not believe this was supported by his administration… we believe he went rogue when he practically called for an insurrection in this country,” said Manickchand, adding that he said, “in America in 1776, when America was a colony of Britain and Britain refused to do these same things A B C D E… the American people took up arms and fought for their Independence.” What are you saying? And then goes on later on to say, ‘we’ll be the wind behind your back, but you got to do this yourself”.
However, Manickchand said the Government of Guyana and the US still share a good relationship. During her remarks at that occasion, Manickchand had said that during the former Ambassador’s three-year tour of duty in Guyana, he contributed to a “tension-filled relationship” between Guyana and the US.
In a subsequent televised interview, Manickchand declared that despite the public spat between Guyana and the US envoy, both countries still share a strong relationship and will not allow the spat to come between them.
She said: “We are friends with the US, Guyana is friendly with the US, we consider them a partner and we believe they consider us a partner. But like any other good relationship, even in homes and families, there are things you disagree on and there are things you might not always have the same view… a disagreement cannot possibly mean that an entire relationship has broken up.”
Manickchand contended that in essence, the Guyana Government had no quarrel with the US; but in fact, the quarrel was with the Ambassador. Manickchand said Hardt had ignored all the conventions of diplomacy when he “repeatedly” dealt public blows to the Government for not holding local government polls.
The Ambassador, she said, has breached repeatedly all the norms and conventions that govern how countries relate with each other through their diplomatic channels.
The Education Minister insisted that the Government would have engaged the former Ambassador “behind closed doors” to register their disapproval with some of the remarks, but his behaviour persisted despite these warnings.
“He attacked President Ramotar, he laughed at Rohee, (and) he mocked the PPP,” the Minister said, referring to recent controversial comments by the former Ambassador who had accused President Donald Ramotar of acting unconstitutionally on Local Government Elections.
Presidential Adviser on Governance, Gail Teixiera, who was also part of the interview, pointed out that the relationship between the US and Guyana is strong, noting that the upcoming establishment of a local office of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in Guyana is proof.
“I believe that there are a number of areas where there have been good relations: there have been progress and there are also some areas where obviously both countries have different national interest and where sometimes those views collide.”
Norms and conventions
However, she said that the issue that the Government had taken up with the Ambassador was indeed personal as he had opined on the evening that he was rebuked for his criticisms of the Government.
Teixiera articulated that “the conventions and norms that had developed between Guyana and the United States were suddenly not in operation” during the tenure of the Ambassador, who had publicly expressed his grievances with the current Government.
Teixeira pointed out that the stinging rebuke was a last option for the Government, who had engaged the Ambassador at the highest levels after previous similar statements, but to no developmental effect.
Teixiera highlighted that his statements persisted “despite many discussions at the highest level with the President, with the Ambassador about our concerns, not only concerns but annoyance, irritation, frustration, with some of the comments he was making publicly about our country, about our Government… he proceeded so what happened (that night) was not a one-off and Government suddenly decided to be a bully in the China shop, what happened was the Government had had enough, he’d crossed the red line.”
Teixeira pointed out that while Hardt was not the sole diplomat who was making public statements about the failure of the Government to hold Local Government Election; the US Ambassador was the only one to point fingers at President Ramotar.
She said too that although the relationship with the US had been very good, the relationship over the “last three years has not been easy”.