Foreign Affairs Ministry says termination of non-career diplomats normal

Nawbatt’s M lawsuit

The Foreign Affairs Ministry is disputing the claims made by former Guyana High Commissioner to Canada

Harry Narine Nawbatt
Harry Narine Nawbatt

Harry Narine Nawbatt that he was “unlawfully dismissed”, pointing out that it was normal practice to terminate the services of non-career diplomats upon a change in administration.
Nawbatt is suing Government for over $49 million in damages for what he said was unlawful dismissal from his duties.
However, the Foreign Affairs Ministry, in a statement on Wednesday, said when there was a change in administration, there may be termination of non-career diplomats who serve as Heads of Missions at the pleasure of the President of the day on a contractual basis.
“In practice, such Heads of Missions would normally submit their resignations when that Administration demits office. Following the results of the General Elections in October 1992, the PPP Administration terminated the services not only of non-career Ambassadors and High Commissioners but also of the career diplomats. The only exception was Ambassador Samuel Rudolph Insanally, who was serving at the time as the Permanent Representative of Guyana to the United Nations,” the Foreign Ministry said.
It said in May last year, only two career diplomats headed Guyana Missions.
“Consequent upon the results of the May 11, 2015 elections, the services of all political/non-career officers would have come to an end anyway. Of these political appointees, only Ambassador Bayney Karran, who heads Guyana’s Embassy in Washington, DC and is also Guyana’s Permanent Representative to the Organisation of American States, submitted a letter of resignation.”
It said in doing so, he indicated his availability and willingness to serve the new Administration if so desired.
“On the other hand, notwithstanding the protocol of resignation, Mr Nawbatt and the other political officers submitted no letters of resignation or expression of willingness to serve. His contract, like those of the other non-career officers, can be said to have been thereby frustrated.”
The Ministry said it was remarkable, although not surprising given the effrontery of some of those officers that Nawbatt could claim to have been since May 11, 2015, in a position to give and receive instructions and to discharge duties as a diplomatic representative of Guyana.
The Ministry said there was no record of it having any involvement in the settlement of the terms of the contract to which Nawbatt has made reference. The contract on which he is basing his appeal was signed a mere few weeks before the 2015 elections. It said he and the other persons signing such contracts would have been aware of the risks involved in signing so close to national elections, a document linked to the provision of service to a President and Administration whose tenure was the subject of the very elections. The contracts ought to have been extended to May 11 or 12 or end of May as agreed by the Inter-Party Transition Committee.
The Ministry said too that it was also unaware of when Nawbatt left his post in Canada. According to the court papers, Nawbatt is suing for damages in excess of $25,000,000 for breach of contract of employment and special damages for $24,295,104.
The former High Commissioner said on June 8, 2015, Audrey Waddell, Director General (ag) of the Foreign Affairs Ministry, wrongfully and in repudiatory breach of the said agreement purported to terminate the plaintiff’s employment and wrongfully dismissed him.