By Kurt Campbell
[www.inewsguyana.com] – The Guyana Government and the United States Embassy at a joint press conference today (Wednesday, August 13), announced that negotiations on the controversial USAID Leadership and Democracy (LEAD) Project have ended and its implementation will resume.
According to Charge d’ Affairs of the U.S Embassy Bryan Hunt, the two sides have reached a final agreement on the design and implementation mechanisms of the project.
His statements were endorsed by Head of the Presidential Secretariat, Dr. Roger Luncheon who said that serious and mature bilateral discussions must be praised for arriving at a mutually agreed position.
The administration had objected to the project’s design; claiming that it was not fully consulted. After much exchange in the press, both sides had agreed to pause the implementation and engage in discussions.
“For a diplomat like myself, conclusion of a bilateral agreement is a cause for celebration,” Hunt said.
It was a jointly expressed view that both sides are now confortable with the project henceforth; though Hunt pointed out that discussions were mainly geared towards ensuring the administration was confortable and participated fully in the project.
Hunt said too that despite modifications that were made to the project, the redesigned LEAD program’s fundamental objectives remain the same which is to strengthen the work of the National Assembly; civic education for local government elections and encouraging greater participation in civic life by women and youth.
Dr. Luncheon later clarified that there were two interventions, one which saw more content being added to the program and another which ensured a fuller elaboration on the process through which the project is to be implemented.
“A mutually acceptable regime was all government insisted as an outcome,” Luncheon added.
The Charge d’ Affairs recalled that in the debate that ensued around the project; claims were made about a possible hidden U.S agenda.
“I want to make it absolutely clear to all Guyanese that no such agenda ever existed,” he clarified. He said too that no support were ever intended to be given or will be given to any political party, be it the governing Party or Opposition parties.
Meanwhile, Glenn Bradbury has returned to Guyana to head the implementation of the project under the International Republican Institute (IRI). The administration had suspended Brabury’s work permit; claiming that despite their objection the project was still being implemented.
Luncheon assured that when the benefits of the project are realized the citizenry will no doubt admire the work put into the design and implementation.