-by Kurt Campbell-
Stalled talks between the Government and the Opposition on several matters of national importance may now move ahead following the intervention of former President of the United States, Jimmy Carter.
Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo told media operatives at Parliament today that President David Granger has now committed to leading those talks himself.
However, the Opposition Leader did not indicate his party’s commitment to participate in the discussions.
The Opposition Leader told reporters that the President’s agenda for the meeting will have to be discussed with the leadership of the PPP, even as he welcomed the announcement by the President.
He explained that the President made the announcement during their consultations today on the Police and Public Service Commissions.
Jagdeo said he received a call from the former US President, Jimmy Carter last week on the issue of the stalled talks.
“The impression I got from President Carter was that in his conversation with he President, the President indicated that he was inclined to have talks with us, but we in the PPP were not so inclined because we didn’t like Nagamootoo”, Jagdeo explained.
He said he seized the opportunity to raise the issue with the President during their meeting today and clarified that the Opposition Party did not have an issue with Prime Minister, Moses Nagamootoo who was nominated as the government’s interlocutor for the meeting. But instead, there was concern about whether Nagamootoo had the ability to get the coalition government to commitment to agreements that may arise during the talks.
“I told President Carter that it was not Nagamootoo that we had an issue with. It was our concern that we expressed that Nagamootoo does not have any portfolio. He was a lightweight in the Government and we would not be able to commit the APNU or the PNC to anything at the meeting,” Jagdeo added.
He said when he asked the President what he intends to speak about during these meetings, the President indicated that it would included matters connected to crime, the environment and oil and gas.
“And he said if you have a problem with Nagamootoo then I myself will lead the talks. So I undertook to have a discussion with he party and we will decide whether we want to engage in this and whether we want to add issues to the agenda.” Jagdeo assured.
He said he believes the international community may be under the impression that the government wanted to talk about governance and constitutional reform and the opposition had passed up that opportunity.
“But from the topics that the President himself proposed, you will see that was never the intention.”
Jagdeo said he believes the government wants to discuss these three issues because the Opposition has been most critical of the government on these “vulnerable issues.
“And by engaging us on discussion, they will reduce the level of discussion. I don’t want to preempt our response without having a detailed discussion with leadership of the party to decide if we engage how we will engage”, he said.
The Ministry of the Presidency has not issued a statement about the possible restart of the regular engagement between the Government and the Opposition.