Although he had been serving as High Commissioner to Canada for over three years, former PPP government Minister, Harrynarine Nawbatt only signed a contract for the position weeks before the PPP was voted out of office at the May 2015 general elections.
In a blistering statement in response to Nawbatt’s $49 Million lawsuit against the Government of Guyana for termination of contract, The Ministry of Foreign Affairs revealed on Wednesday that there is no record of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs having any involvement in the settlement of the terms of the contract to which Mr Nawbatt has made reference.
It said the contract on which he is basing his court action “was signed a mere few weeks before the 2015 elections. He and the other persons signing such contracts would have been aware of the risks involved in signing so close to national elections, a document linked to the provision of service to a President and administration whose tenure was the subject of the very elections”.
The Foreign Affairs Ministry is of the view that the contracts ought to have been extended to May 11th or 12th or end of May as agreed by the Inter-Party Transition Committee.
The Ministry said there is a customary practice where a change in administration may result in the termination of services of non-career diplomats who serve as Heads of Missions at the pleasure of the President of the day on a contractual basis.
“In practice, such Heads of Missions would normally submit their resignations when that administration demits office”, the release stated. The Foreign Affairs Ministry reminded that following the results of the General Elections in October 1992, the PPP administration terminated the services not only of non-career Ambassadors and High Commissioners but also of the career diplomats. It said the only exception was Ambassador Samuel Rudolph Insanally, who was serving at the time as the Permanent Representative of Guyana to the United Nations.
According to the Ministry, in May 2015 only two career diplomats headed Guyana Missions abroad, the others were political appointees.
“Consequent upon the results of the May 11, 2015 elections, the services of all political /non-career officers would have come to an end anyway. Of these political appointees, only Ambassador Bayney Karran, who heads Guyana’s Embassy in Washington, DC and is also Guyana’s Permanent Representative to the Organisation of American States, submitted a letter of resignation. In doing so, he indicated his availability and willingness to serve the new administration if so desired”.
Karran has since been appointed as Guyana’s new Ambassador to China.
The Ministry explained that notwithstanding the protocol of resignation, Mr Nawbatt and the other political officers submitted no letters of resignation or expression of willingness to serve.
“His contract, like those of the other non-career officers, can be said to have been thereby frustrated. It is remarkable therefore, although not surprising given the effrontery of some of those officers, that Mr H. Nawbatt could claim to have been, since May 11, 2015, in a position to give and receive instructions and to discharge duties as a diplomatic representative of Guyana.”
The former Guyanese High Commissioner to Canada Harry Narine Nawbatt announced last week that he was suing the coalition government for $49 Million over what he contends is his wrongful dismissal and a breached contractual agreement he had with the previous PPP/C administration.
Nawbatt, who left his Diplomatic post last year to come home and campaign for the PPP during the elections, believes the new government’s move to relieve him of his duties in Canada was wrongful and in breach of his contract.
Former Attorney General Anil Nandlall is among the Lawyers representing Nawbatt.
Mr. Nawbatt once served as a Minister of Government under the PPP.
He is asking the Court to award him damages in excess of $25M for breach of contract and “special” damages in the sum of $24,295,104.
The letter, which was included in the statement of claim, stated that Nawbatt’s appointment would end on August 31st, 2015 and that he should report to post Georgetown.