Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo is now challenging President David Granger, to have an open debate on race relations in Guyana.
Mr. Jagdeo who served as President for 12 years said he wants to have a public discourse with the President on the matter of race where he intends to examine the issue both under the incumbent APNU+AFC government and the former People’s Progressive Party government, comparatively.
Jagdeo headed the PPP government as President of Guyana between the period from 11 August 1999 to 3 December 2011.
But with allegations of racial discriminations leveled against his government, the former President now Opposition Leader rejected those claims during a press conference on Thursday.
He said even if it existed under the PPP government it is worse under the APNU+AFC government.
To support his claim, the Opposition Leader used the recent decision by the Guyana Elections Commission not to renew the contract of former Deputy Chief Elections Officer, Vishnu Persaud following its expiration.
With the full support of three opposition nominated Commissioners, Persaud was not returned to the post of Deputy Chief Elections Officer after Chairman cast his vote.
As is covered in law, retired Justice James Patterson used his casting vote as Chairman to appoint another candidate in the person of Roxanne Myers for the position.
Jagdeo said he believes the appointment was done solely on race and called for an impartial investigation into the matter by the Ethnic Relations Commission, but last week he said he does not believe it was a race issue.
Mr. Jagdeo told the media that since the Chair and government nominated Commissioners have asserted that the system at GECOM is above board, then they should have no problem with an investigation.
He reasoned in his defense of Persaud, that the former DCEO has experience an special training in elections management, has an MBA and also emerged as the number one candidate during the interview process.
“In any fair system Vishnu should have been the candidate to be appointed, the only factor is race.”
Jagdeo repeated his proposed contest for an open debate on the issue of race and now hopes that the President will accept his challenge.
It was Jagdeo who after the last elections was criminally charged via a private charge by Christopher Ram, of using a political platform to incite race hate.