The Governments of Guyana and the United States have reached agreement on the Leadership and Democracy project which had found itself embroiled in controversy after the Guyana Government initially objected to its implementation.
In an interview with News Source at his Duke Street, Georgetown office, US Ambassador to Guyana D. Brent Hardt announced that “the U.S and Guyana have reached an agreement” on the LEAD project. He said the two governments have not completed all of the discussions but have completed the agreement on “components related to the strengthening of Parliament and to civic education on local government elections”.
Ambassador said the only thing now remaining in terms of the negotiations on the project are discussions on women and youth engagement which make up the final component of the USAID funded project.
“We’ve been given the green light to start-up”, the Ambassador told News Source, while pointing out that “all systems are a go and we are delighted that the Government will be joining the engagement going forward”.
The U.S Embassy was forced to put a hold on the project’s implementation back in May when the Government of Guyana revoked the work permit and extension of stay status of the Head of the LEAD project, Glenn Bradbury.
Ambassador Hardt said his government was surprised by that move and requested clarification on the revocation of Bradbury’s work permit but that clarification never came. “We made the appropriate diplomatic request for clarification and I think at certain point the issue was essentially sidelined and we are back in business”, Mr. Hardt said.
According to the U.S envoy, “we were very surprised by it because the work permit was issued by the Government and it was never clear to us what the grounds of the revocation were because the Chief of Party was here doing the work for which he had been given the visa and we never received any indication that any action had been taken that was outside the scope of that”. The issue he said, now appears to be water under the bridge and the US government was ready to move forward. Ambassador Hardt noted that both the Guyana and United States government wanted to find a way forward for the project that would be in the best interest of the Guyanese people.
He said “we have had some real excellent discussions over the past couple of months that have clarified what had been misunderstandings related to the programme and I think we have found that common ground and I am excited that this programme which has already accomplished a good bit can now move forward with the participation of the Government and the Opposition which is really what is needed to make sure that it could have an impact.”
The LEAD project was initially proposed in October, 2012 to benefit the Government and People of Guyana as a democracy project after the 2011 elections.
In previous statement the Embassy had said that the goals of the project include the promotion of understanding and consensus building within the National Assembly, civic education for local government elections, and greater civic engagement among women and youth.
The project was developed through extensive consultations with stakeholders including the Government of Guyana. It was fully supported by most of those stakeholders including the Opposition political parties.