One week ago, the Government of Guyana confirmed that they had nominated Charrandas Persaud as their new Ambassador to India.
Governments are free to select any person of their choice to ambassadorial postings, accepted international practice being that they do not have to be career foreign service officials. Persaud needs no introduction to the Guyanese public, but it might be useful to provide his background, since it is now being raised by the Opposition APNU/AFC to reject that appointment.
An executive member of the AFC, Persaud was selected as a Regional MP from Reg 6 by the APNU/AFC coalition. During the No Confidence Motion (NCM) brought by the then Opposition PPPC on Dec 21, 2018, he voted in favour of the motion, which was therefore carried, since the one-seat majority on which the Government had assumed office was then removed. The designated leaders of the Government in Parliament, PM Moses Nagamootoo and APNU Chair Volda Lawrence, immediately conceded the fall of their government in accordance with the stipulations of our constitution. They hailed the event as a “triumph of democracy”.
After following suit, the next day, President David Granger then reversed his position after it was suggested by an ex-Chair of the AFC that the 33 votes of the 65 that carried the motion were not the required majority. A long and contentious legal process was then initiated, and was fought all the way to the CCJ – the apex court of our Judicial system. They confirmed that Persaud had the right to vote as he did, and that 33 was in fact the majority of 65. The Government was ordered to resign and hold elections, which was dragged out by the APNU/AFC – then a “caretaker government”. After much drama, elections were held on March 2, 2019, but the announcement of the results were dragged out for a further six months as the APNU/AFC coalition blatantly attempted to rig the process.
The PPPC finally took office on Aug 2nd, 2019.
In the meantime, fully cognisant of the modus operandi of the PNC – which totally controlled the APNU/AFC coalition – Persaud had fled to Canada in fear for his life, after he had been branded as “Judas” by the former. However, he had become a hero to those Guyanese who accepted Persaud’s stated rationale for voting against his coalition. To wit, that the latter’s unilateral and precipitate closure of four sugar estates – throwing 4000 persons on the breadlines in Berbice alone – was unwarranted and against the interests of his constituency. In a word, he stoutly maintained that he had voted his conscience in the time-honoured tradition of Parliamentary democracy.
Now, however, Leader of the Opposition (LOO), Joseph Harmon, has written to the Government of India, declaring, “…we are of the view that the appointment of Mr. Persaud to such an important portfolio is likely to be viewed by the Guyanese people as a reward for and an endorsement of his treasonous act.” He is hoping that India would reject the nomination of Mr Persaud as Guyana’s Ambassador.
But in the view of this newspaper, the LOO – and his entire coterie in the coalition – fundamentally misrepresent Mr Persaud’s action in the NCM, but which any Indian Government, including the incumbent, will reject because of their long history with NCM’s in their Parliament.
India has had 27 NCMs introduced since its independence, the first one in 1963 and the last as recently as 2018. More pertinently, in 1999, the BJP-led NDA coalition Government of Atal Vajpayee was removed by an identical majority of 1, when several members of parties in alliance with it voted against him. The BJP accepted the results, resigned immediately and called elections within the stipulated 6 months. Unlike the PNC, which had to be dragged to the polls kicking and screaming, they won.
The PNC are only further sullying what remains of their tattered democratic credentials. India will accept Mr Charrandas Persaud as Guyana’s Ambassador.
We wish him well.