The Government of Guyana has sought to explain that its attack on the U.S Ambassador at his US Independence reception was a cabinet approved “feral blast” by the Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs Priya Manickchand.
The Government’s Chief Spokesman, Cabinet Secretary Dr. Roger Luncheon recently told the media that the government was forced to act and act decisively following the remarks by the outgoing Ambassador when he criticised the President and the Government for not calling local government elections in 20 years.
Manickchand’s attack on the US Ambassador was delivered on July 2nd. But on June 27, just three days before, the substantive Minister of Foreign Affairs Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett was in full praise of the US Ambassador and his many successful efforts to forge closer ties between Guyana and the United States during his tour of duty.
Birkett hosted a farewell reception at her Takuba Lodge office for Ambassador Brent Hardt and according to some persons who attended the reception, the Foreign Minister spoke highly of the US Envoy and the many projects under his lead that have benefited Guyana.
A Foreign Ministry official who was present at the event, told News Source, that the event was in keeping with the high standards of diplomacy and was incident free. The official said it came as a shock to many when just three days later, after Rodrigues-Birkett left for the CARICOM Meeting, the acting Minister of Foreign Affairs delivered a stinging attack on the US Chief of Mission in her official capacity at an event that would usually showcase diplomacy at its best.
Speeches for such events would usually be written by Foreign Service staff, but as Dr. Luncheon admitted, it was the cabinet that put together the “legitimate blast” for Minister Manickchand to deliver at the event. News Source understands that it was Dr. Luncheon himself who took the lead role in penning the attack speech while discarding a speech that was prepared by the Foreign Service.
At his press conference last week, Dr. Luncheon noted that the Ambassador’s speech at the closing ceremony of a training programme organised by the Blue Caps group, needed a response from government in an attack format. That event was held after Rodrigues-Birkett’s glowing tribute, but before Manickchand’s “feral blast”.
Manickchand’s speech has been heavily criticised by the political opposition and social commentators as “vulgar and crass”. The Government continues to stand behind its decision to have the Minister deliver the attack speech in her capacity as Acting Foreign Affairs Minister.
While the government may have carefully planned its attack, it may not have expected the response it got from guests at the event. The Acting Foreign Minister was booed and heckled when she started her attack.
Manickchand hurried out of the US Embassy reception just after her speech with the Presidential Advisor on Governance Gail Teixiera in tow.
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