….as Govt clashes with elected Indigenous leaders
By Michael Younge
Former Amerindian Affairs Minister Pauline Sukhai has called on the Government to treat the National Toshaos Council with the respect it deserves as it is an elected body tasked with representing Guyana’s first peoples while lobbying for a better standard of living for all indigenous people who reside here.
Sukhai, was at the time speaking during an interview with Inews on Thursday evening, when she described the Government’s attack, contained in a statement issued by the Indigenous Affairs Peoples Ministry, as vicious and blatant.
The former PPP Minister hesitantly opined that there appears to be some sort of disconnect between the NTC Executive and the Government as far as finding amicable solutions to the problems that are facing indigenous peoples.
“The NTC, as an elected body with Indigenous leaders will, from time to time, be seeking and negotiating with Government on many issues. And that is how it should be. If the NTC has a priority and they feel strongly that the priority is not being addressed by Government, then it’s within their authority to advance representation,” she added.
Sukhai also argued that the Government is duty bound to find more creative and mature ways to engage the elected body as opposed to spewing bitter rhetoric which can only fan the flames.
Admitting that she was not previewed to the correspondence and demands made by the NTC that the Government complained bitterly about on Wednesday in its release, the former Amerindian Affairs Minister said that the developments are strange altogether as the current Indigenous Peoples Affairs Minister sits as an ex-officio member of the NTC.
“It’s actually like they can’t cooperate, and I don’t think the Government should seek to be indifferent to the NTC…that press statement of accusing the NTC executive is different from what they should be doing. They should be working together, and have full engagement with each other to further the development of Indigenous people in this country,” she remarked during the interview.
The David Granger Government on Wednesday accused the NTC of disrespecting the Office of the President as it launched a scathing attack on several vocal Indigenous representatives who were not toeing the line, but exposing serious malpractices of the current A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change Administration.
The MoIPA has accused the NTC and its Vice Chairman, Lenox Shuman, of being confrontational, demanding, and disrespectful in their writings to President Granger.
The MoIPA said it has also observed a trend of public posturing by NTC executives, and has stated that the NTC has so far not distanced itself from what the MoIPA described as rather divisive, disingenuous, and sometimes incoherent statements being made by these officials.