British High Commissioner to Guyana Andrew Ayre has fired back at Minister of Foreign Affairs Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett in wake of her statements that it is ironic that the British government would have concerns about the prorogation in Guyana when it is the British who have the prorogation legacy.
In a telephone interview with News Source from his Main Street, Georgetown office, High Commissioner Ayre said his response to the Minister’s statement would be to “let’s focus on the Ministerial statement; the UK government views with concern the continued prorogation of Parliament and that is principally because we have no idea why Parliament was prorogued”.
He said he is not surprised by the statement but would like to know why the belief exists that the British should not have an opinion or concern about what is happening in Guyana.
“Within the confines of Guyana, I am probably not surprised by her response because anyone who says anything that the Government doesn’t agree with, they try to demolish and discredit”, Ayre said.
The British High Commissioner brushed aside statements from the General Secretary of the governing People’s Progressive Party Clement Rohee, that as an independent nation, Guyana does not have to listen to Britain. Rohee said it appears as though members of the Diplomatic community are becoming more and more “involved in our internal affairs”.
High Commissioner Ayre told News Source that Rohee “can see it however which way he likes but it is for the UK government to determine what its foreign policy objectives are and one of the key foreign policy objectives of the UK is the promotion of democracy and I have never had a counter argument which suggests that it shouldn’t be the promotion of democracy. And it isn’t up to the PPP or the Government or the General Secretary to determine what UK Foreign policy objectives actually are”.
“To say that the UK should not have a view or shouldn’t have a role, I simply don’t agree with. Why shouldn’t we have a role because I have never seen a counter argument”, the High Commissioner said.
British Foreign Minister, Tobias Ellwood in a statement from London last week called for the earliest resumption of Parliament and also expressed concern about the absence of local government elections in Guyana in over 20 years.
The British High Commissioner reiterated the same concerns at a Monday press conference in Georgetown.
Guyana’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett turned to her Facebook page to respond to the British concerns and also dismissed concerns about sanctions from the UK or the Commonwealth by saying that such “threats” would be nothing new.
Rodrigues-Birkett wrote ““the threat of sanctions from the High Commissioner is not new. That very threat was made regarding Local Government Elections. Yet when a date by which the elections was slated to be held was announced by President Ramotar, it appeared no longer important enough to encourage the other parties to work together to see it materialize. That threat was also not that veiled when Guyana voted a particular way on an issue at the UN. Of course we were vindicated on the latter with recent developments.”
High Commissioner Ayre in response to that said that there has been no threat to Guyana about any votes at the United Nations and he has not seen any vindication either for the route that Guyana took.
He said the best way for the Government of Guyana to deal with the current situation facing the country is for the President to name a date for the elections.
The High Commissioner has indicated that his government will support the hosting of elections in Guyana although it is reexamining the flow of British development funds to Guyana during the prorogation period.
President Ramotar prorogued the Guyana Parliament in November, 2014 in an effort to block the no confidence motion that was being prepared to be moved against his government by the Opposition. The Opposition parties hold the majority in the National Assembly in Guyana.
Filed: 13th January, 2015