Govt moving ahead with development agenda – Teixeira

…says “no sleep lost” over APNU/AFC’s rhetoric

Making it clear that she is personally not losing any sleep over the political Opposition’s negative rhetoric, Governance and Parliamentary Affairs Minister, Gail Teixeira said the Government’s developmental agenda will forge ahead with or without the Opposition onboard.
During an interview on Sunday with another section of the local media, Teixeira was asked about the current impasse between President Dr Irfaan Ali and Opposition Leader Joseph Harmon. While the two men have constitutional matters to meet on, Harmon and his parliamentary Opposition have continued a campaign to brand the Government illegitimate.
This is despite the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) losing the elections by over 15,000 votes and having both its election petitions tossed out by the court. Teixeira was optimistic that the APNU/AFC will come around to civil discussions with the Government at some point in time.
“We’re supposed to use our powers to govern on behalf of the people. So that’s going to be our main focus. At some point the PNC is going to come along. They have to come along. Whether you bring them fighting and spitting or whatever,” Teixeira said.
“But when you listen to the statements in New York, they’re not helpful. How can you say you wanna talk to us and you’re calling us racist, get out of the country, we’re going to bring you down and make it ungovernable? What kind of atmosphere is that for discussions?”

Governance Minister
Gail Teixeira

Teixeira recounted the events that followed the 1997 elections and the unrest that followed because the People’s National Congress (PNC) did not want to accept the elections. She noted that at that time, the Herdmanston Accord had to be drafted and there had to be external mediation for dialogue so the country could move forward. She noted that the PNC, the majority party in APNU/AFC, is up to their old modus operandi.
“There is a mood out there. You’ve lost an election, you put in two petitions, you lost those as well. But you’re carrying on fooling your supporters that you’ve won. Then you’re saying you want to talk to us. I’m sure the time will come when they will be tested. Because there are issues that have to be looked at.”
“I heard Ramjattan saying, oh we’re asking them to go on their knees. We’re not asking that… the fact that the PNC is refusing to accept the democratic will of the people, that they lost and lost more than in 2011. In 2011 the margin of votes was 5000. It’s now 15,000. I think at some point they’re going to have to accept. They may never, but the point is, life goes on.”

Accept electoral loss
While Teixeira acknowledged that APNU/AFC’s defeat in the March 2nd General and Regional Elections must still rankle, she pointed to the example of former President Hugh Desmond Hoyte, who stepped down from power and gracefully accepted defeat. The Minister called former President David Granger’s acceptance of the electoral loss “chalk and cheese”.

Opposition Leader Joseph Harmon

“No President likes to accept defeat. It hurts, personally and politically. Granger’s so-called response has not helped. And then Harmon’s response has not helped. Maybe it’s the time people need to settle and the Opposition isn’t allowing that to happen.”
“I think Guyanese, even those who supported APNU, are saying, look there’s a new Government. Let’s see what they’re going to deliver to us. What people want to see is improvement in health, education, in the roads, the water, electricity, in their provision of services, in education and health.”
Teixeira highlighted the importance of a political opposition, but pointed out that society is made up of so much more. These other important facets of society include civil society, Neighbourhood and Regional Democratic Councils and the grass roots communities.
“We had said when we came in, that we would hit the ground running. And we’ve done that, but there are issues we discover along the way. Things that were changed or undone by the former Government. People, having gone through the five months, are not patient to give us time. They want changes, they want reforms, they want house lots, they want jobs.”
“And that’s what we’re trying to do every day, in terms of our budget, the investments, the COVID relief, the flood relief which is now going to start. For our Government, in a situation where we have an Opposition that doesn’t accept you being legitimate and using these words ‘installed’ and carrying a race card all the time, this complicates the trajectory we had. It doesn’t stop us, but it does complicate it.”
The APNU/AFC has been complaining about the lack of dialogue with the PPP Government on key areas of interest, but at the same time have been labelling the Ali-led Administration as “installed”.
President Dr Irfaan Ali himself has said he is not averse to meeting the Opposition, though he has noted the Opposition designating his Government as “illegitimate” is a practical obstacle to engagements. (G3)