Six Guyanese diplomats who served in foreign states were fired by the David Granger-led Administration but the President downplayed the issue on Wednesday, saying that his Administration’s actions were “just a planned change”.
This newspaper understands that those terminated are Hamley Case, who was posted in the United Kingdom; Bishwaishwar Ramsaroop, stationed in the twin-island republic Trinidad and Tobago; Clarissa Riehl, who was posted in Canada; Bayney Karran in China, Cheryl Miles in Venezuela, and JR Deep Ford in Switzerland. Riehl had taken the Government to task in 2016, when Attorney General Basil Williams attempted to take control of a plot of land she owns at Middle and Carmichael Streets, Georgetown under the Acquisition of Lands for Public Purposes Act. Efforts to contact the diplomats for comments on Wednesday proved futile.
Along with the recalled diplomats, Director-General of the Foreign Affairs Ministry, Audrey Waddell was replaced by a permanent secretary. She is cited as one of the newest recruits for a diplomatic position outside of Guyana.
On the sidelines of an event at the Ministry of the Presidency on Wednesday, the President downplayed the situation by insisting that it was the Government’s intention to recruit new diplomats who have reached the eligible requirements. According to him, there is no ‘shakeup’.
“There has been no shakeup. At the start of my presidency, I had made it clear that the Ambassadors who would be appointed would be there for only three years and that with my Government’s intention to professionalise the foreign service, that is to say, to reduce or remove political appointees and to allow career officers who had been recruited as diplomats and have been trained and educated as diplomats, to be diplomats,” Granger said.
He further asserted that the Guyanese Ambassadors and High Commissioners were aware of this intention.
This decision, he said, was made after the elections were announced for March 2, 2020.
“It so happened that the contracts of many of the Ambassadors and High Commissioners expired during the time there was some uncertainty about when elections would be held and as a result of that uncertainty, some of the changes were not made. But when it became certain that elections wouldn’t be held until March 2020, a decision was taken to proceed with those changes. So it is not a shakeup.
It is a planned change and the Ambassadors and High Commissioners knew that the intention of the Government has always been to professionalise the service”.
After news of the recall spread last week, former Attorney General Anil Nandlall had contended that Government is a caretaker mode, and, therefore, has no authority to make such decisions.
However, the President contended, “There is no change really, it is a smooth transition from having political appointees as head of Guyanese missions to having professional Ambassadors and High Commissioners…I do not see that it would have any impact that is negative for this country because it is typical in most countries to have professional Foreign Service officers”.
Granger, meanwhile, confirmed that Waddell was moved from her portfolio. But the President insisted that she has been earmarked for a foreign post. It was his decision to replace her with the Permanent Secretary.
However, while Granger points to the fact that he wants professionalise the foreign service, Guyana’s Ambassador to Cuba, Halim Majeed is not a career diplomat but his services have been retained.