Opposition talks about constitutional, electoral reforms with Canadian envoy

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Opposition Leader Joseph Harmon and a team have met with Canadian High Commissioner to Guyana Mark Berman. Also in the photo are Leader of the Alliance For Change (AFC), Khemraj Ramjattan, as well as party members Amanza Walton-Desir and Geeta Chandan-Edmond

Opposition Leader Joseph Harmon on Wednesday led a delegation which met with Canadian High Commissioner to Guyana, Mark Berman, to discuss a number of matters pertaining to the country’s affairs.

The meeting, which was held at the Office of the Leader of the Opposition, was also attended by Leader of the Alliance For Change (AFC), Khemraj Ramjattan, as well as party members Amanza Walton-Desir and Geeta-Chandan Edmond.

Harmon, in a brief video statement following the engagement, noted that the meeting was a significant one.

“It is important that the High Commission understands the way we see things, and understand the way our supporters feel,” the Opposition Leader expressed.

He noted that the discussion with the Canadian envoy comes on the heels of similar engagements the APNU/AFC Opposition have had with United States and United Kingdom diplomats.

Harmon said that in the meeting with the Canadian diplomat, they spoke about “the need for a new voters list before any elections, and we felt that the house-to-house way of producing the voters list is, in our view, the best way for doing so.”

Discussions were also focused on “constitutional change, and how we go about changing the Constitution, and we emphasised that it has to be a grass-roots approach.”

Meanwhile, Ramjattan also hailed the meeting with the Canadian envoy as a “significant step”.

According to Ramjattan, the Opposition spoke about matters relating to the overall development of Guyana, including topics of climate change, constitutional and electoral reforms, and the murder of the three teenagers on the West Coast of Berbice (Haresh Singh and Joel and Isaiah Henry).

Ramjattan said Canada has always been a friend of Guyana’s, even under the APNU/AFC administration. Against this backdrop, he said, “We want to maintain that contact and communication”.

In December 2020, Harmon had refused to meet with outgoing Canadian High Commissioner Lillian Chatterjee, denying her request for a farewell courtesy call.

Following the December 21, 2018 vote of no confidence against the then APNU/AFC Government, the Canadian High Commissioner played an instrumental role in getting Charrandass Persaud out of Guyana after he voted against his party in Parliament.

Persaud, a Canadian citizen, had expressed fear for his life after he voted against the then incumbent Government. He sought refuge at the High Commission, and was subsequently transported out of the country to Canada, where he remained until recently, when he returned to Guyana.

Chatterjee and her fellow diplomats from the United States, United Kingdom and the European Union also played an integral role in the restoration of democracy in Guyana following the March 2, 2020 General and Regional Elections after the APNU/AFC Government’s refusal to demit office, having lost the elections.