Charrandas Persaud tipped as Guyana’s High Commissioner to India
…as Foreign Service shake-up looms
Charandas Persaud, the former Alliance For Change (AFC) parliamentarian whose break with the former Government caused them to topple from power via a No-Confidence Motion (NCM) in 2018, is being tipped to be Guyana’s new High Commissioner to India.
According to a well-placed source, Persaud’s appointment along with the appointment of various other key diplomats are likely to be announced soon, as the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) Government seeks to fill various diplomatic postings and a shake-up of the foreign service looms.
The previous High Commissioner to India was Ambassador David Pollard. Prior to Pollard, Guyana’s former Home Affairs Minister Ronald Gajraj served in that position until 2015, when A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) came to power.
Guyana and India, which established bilateral relations in 1966 following Guyana’s Independence, have strong diplomatic and economic ties that are bolstered by several high-level deals brokered through India’s diplomatic presence in Guyana.
One such project is the Ogle-Diamond bypass road project, which will see a total of 26 kilometres of road constructed, linking two of the country’s main thoroughfares. This new road link will also be connected to key communities in Georgetown and along the East Bank of Demerara. These include Diamond, Mocha and Eccles – all on the East Bank – and Aubrey Barker Road in Georgetown. These connections will prove crucial in diverting traffic.
At present, works are ongoing on the new alternative road connecting Diamond and Eccles to ease the traffic congestion. The new alternative road will run from Sixth Avenue, Diamond to the Windsor Estate Road that leads on to the Eccles Landfill Site Road. This will form a connection through the new Herstelling Housing Scheme and other schemes that are being developed along the EBD corridor.
These projects are part of the India-funded Bypass Road Project which would link the East Bank Demerara corridor to the East Coast of Demerara, creating a new highway in the backlands, for which the Indian Government had provided a US$50 million Line of Credit (LOC).
But other groundbreaking projects funded by the Indian Government, like the Specialty Hospital Project, which had been marred in controversy since its initial stage, never took off from the ground.
The US$18 million project, which was being funded by the India Export-Import (EXIM) Bank via a line of credit (LOC), was dropped in 2016 after the contracted company, Fedders Lloyd Corporation Limited – which was handpicked by the coalition Administration— was blacklisted by the World Bank until 2020 over fraud and corruption practices.
The former APNU/AFC Government subsequently announced that the project was “dead”. Former Indian High Commissioner to Guyana, Venkatachalam Mahalingam had described this project as his biggest disappointment.
Charandas Persaud, on his part, has been living in Canada since fleeing Guyana under the weight of death threats immediately after he used his conscience vote to side with the PPP during the NCM of December 22, 2018.
The former APNU/AFC Government argued vehemently but unsuccessfully, first at the National Assembly and then at the High Court, that the motion was not validly passed. Among their arguments was that 33 was not the majority of 65 and that Charandas Persaud was not qualified to be in Parliament because he held dual citizenship with Canada.
They found success at the Appeals Court, which overturned the no-confidence vote. All the while, the constitutional deadline of March 2019, by which time Granger should have called elections, expired. But the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), which upheld the passage of the No-Confidence Motion, vindicated Persaud.
However, the former APNU/AFC Government found other means of delaying the calling of elections, including by the use of House-to-House Registration. In the meantime, under the former Government, an investigation was pursued by the Guyana Police Force (GPF) into Persaud and whether he was bribed to vote the way he did.
This investigation never went anywhere and there are many who have theorised that it was politically motivated. Persaud returned to Guyana only after Government changed hands, making an appearance during a sitting of the National Assembly in October of last year. (G3)