PPP willing to dialogue with President on national issues – Jagdeo

…Nagamootoo may have to take backseat

By Michael Younge

Guyana’s Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo, on Thursday reaffirmed that political Opposition party’s commitment to being part of any formal talks with the A Partnership for National Unity and Alliance for Change Coalition Government, once there is a clear agenda, and personnel on the part of the coalition who have the power, portfolio weight, and authority to make binding commitments during the discussions.
The Opposition Leader also made it clear that, as a responsible stakeholder, the Peoples Progressive Party is not interested in entering “cosmetic talks and arrangements” that are aimed at achieving political mileage and deceiving the public that progress is being made between the Government and Opposition on key areas, especially those related to constitutional reform, governance, and the fight against all forms of political and public corruption.
Jagdeo has made public his party’s recommitment to being part of discussions sponsored by the Government, once they are transparent, serious in nature, and are aimed at tackling some key issues which are eating away at the moral, social, economic and political fabrics of the country’s society.
He explained that he feels the need to publicly share his party’s position on any proposed talks, in order to clarify any misconception or belief that the PPP is not interested in dialogue with the Government, and was therefore avoiding the same because of its perceived resentment of Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo, who initially had been identified as the person who would spearhead discussions.
Jagdeo added he is compelled to ensure that the international community and Guyanese within the diaspora do not get the wrong perception of the PPP’s posture.
“I received a call from President Carter, Jimmy Carter [former US President James Earl Carter Jr.], and after talking a bit about Guyana, he said to me he had spoken to President Granger, and somehow, (what) he got from that conversation is that the Government wanted to engage with us and we are unwilling to engage because we don’t like Nagamootoo. So I said to him that that’s absolutely not true,” the Opposition Leader said.
Jagdeo maintained that the only issue his party has with Nagamootoo is related to his portfolio. He remarked that the PPP and its leaders do not believe that the Prime Minister has a portfolio within Government, or that Nagamootoo has an inability to make the kind of serious and binding commitments the PPP needs after being locked in discussions.
“It is not the individual, it is his ability to make commitments that we cannot accept; because — and I pointed this out to President Carter; I said, ‘The AFC can’t even secure a meeting with APNU. They have written APNU since February of this year, and now it’s July, and I do not think they can secure a meeting with APNU to discuss the Cummingsburg Accord.
“Secondly, Nagamootoo has absolutely no substantive portfolio. GINA and Chronicle…is not a serious portfolio; and therefore, that is the reason why,” he explained.
Jagdeo said that, as a former President, he decided to raise the matter with President Granger in an attempt to seek clarity about Government being interested in discussing with the PPP, so that he could engage his party’s Executive.
“I said I’ll raise it with President Granger, and that we will be seeking two things from the President. First of all, clarity on what precisely they wanted to discuss; and two: whether Nagamootoo has the weight to make commitments on behalf of the PNC and APNU; which I did today.”
To this end, the President assured that to address the Opposition’s concerns about Nagamootoo, he is himself prepared to lead the discussions regarding the topics: crime, environment, oil and gas.
The former President explained he was given the impression that the international community believes Granger wants to discuss governance and constitutional reform.
“…somehow, I think the international community felt that the discussions had to be about governance and constitutional changes that the Government was offering, and therefore we were rejecting any discussion about governance and constitutional reform. President Carter did not mention that to me, but I had the distinct impression that the feeling was that it is about governance…and somehow, the PPP was reluctant to discuss this. But as you can see now, that was never a proposal of APNU’s to discuss…” he said.