“Maintain neutrality” …T&T MP roasts Minister for attending Guyana Govt investment outreach

Naparima MP Rodney Charles
Naparima MP Rodney Charles

The presence of a Trinidadian Minister at the Guyana Government’s recent investment outreach in Trinidad and Tobago has drawn criticism from a lawmaker in the twin island Republic, who is urging his Government to maintain neutrality when dealing with Guyana’s caretaker Government.

Trinidad Member of Parliament Rodney Charles, who represents Naparima, was quoted in Trinidad’s Newsday berating the twin island’s Energy Minister, Franklin Khan, for attending at the event.

The event, which was picketed by pro-Opposition supporters— who held placards urging the coalition to comply with the Constitution– was held by Guyana’s Government at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Port-of-Spain on Friday last.

Charles pointed out to Minister Khan that a question mark hangs over Guyana’s Government following the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) rulings.

T&T Energy Minister Franklin Khan speaking at the event

The Parliamentarian was quoted reminding Khan that the CCJ ruled that the Guyana Government should operate as a caretaker government with the main purpose of calling elections as soon as possible.

According to Charles in the news report, it was doubtful whether hosting the investment outreach could be classified as a caretaker responsibility. Moreover, Charles in the news report also referenced Trinidad Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley’s foreign policy of non-interference.

He noted that Khan was out of order for attending the Guyana Government-hosted event. Moreover, he questioned the repercussions if the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) were to win the next elections that must be held following the passage of the No-Confidence Motion.

“If, in fact, a TT minister of Government attended an official function in our country last week hosted by the Government of President David Granger to raise investments… that would be entirely out of order. How will (a potential PPP Government) view our actions in the run up to the elections? Will this affect our relations with Guyana?”

He pointed out in the Newsday that it is clearly not in “T&T’s national interest at this time to appear to be taking sides either with the present caretaker Government of David Granger or with the Opposition. Given all the circumstances, our national interest will be best served by being scrupulously neutral”. Efforts by this publication to reach both Charles and Khan were futile.

Guyana’s Government fell to a No-Confidence Motion on December 21, 2018, and approached the Courts soon after to overturn the vote. When the matter reached the CCJ, the regional Court validated the vote.