Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo and Opposition Leader, Aubrey Norton got into a face-to-face exchange last evening at a reception that was hosted by the European Commission in Guyana to mark Europe Day.
It was the first encounter between the two since Norton was elected as Opposition Leader. The two have been trading barbs at each other for weeks at their separate press conferences.
On the sidelines of the reception last evening, the two started a discussion about the 2020 elections, the Statements of Poll, Corruption and allegations of fraud.
Though the exchange was civil, the Opposition Leader threw out a challenge to have a public debate with the Vice President on major issues. The Vice President said he would like to see the APNU+AFC present copies of its statements of poll from the last elections first.
He dismissed Norton’s call for a public debate as nothing more than “gaff”, but Norton said he was serious as he accused the PPP Civic of not wanting to address the elections in totality.
“You agreed to Order 60, to have (1) a recount, (2) an assessment, and then the observation to determine which votes were fraudulent and which votes were not. You never allowed it to get to that,” Mr. Norton told Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo.
Although the Opposition leader reminded the Vice President that he committed to Order 60, the Vice President reminded Mr. Norton of the Representative of People’s Act which guided the recount process.
Mr. Jagdeo also said the reports of the international community on all of the happenings at the last elections cannot be dismissed.
He said if Norton is serious about wanting to engage him in a public debate then he should provide the statements of poll that the APNU+AFC claims showed that it won the elections.
Since taking office, President Irfaan Ali who is currently out of the country, has not met with the Opposition. Just over two weeks ago, he indicated that he would be soon extending an invitation to the Opposition Leader to begin consultations on a number of constitutional matters and appointments that require the involvement of the Opposition Leader.
Norton believes the meetings should be more broad-based and should also cover other issues.