Under pressure over leaders’ dealings, AFC admits to lack of “full disclosure”

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Leader of the AFC, Khemraj Ramjattan
Leader of the AFC, Khemraj Ramjattan

With much controversy surrounding links between leaders of the Alliance for Change (AFC) with companies and individuals, the Party says it takes “full responsibility for the absence of full disclosure in a timely manner of the role of these leaders, and we apologise for this critical lapse in duty.”

Both AFC Leader Khemraj Ramjattan, AFC Chairman Nigel Hughes and Members of Parliament have been criticized for providing services to individuals and companies without making these known especially when these issues were before the National Assembly.

The most recent criticism stems from the recent exposure of Hughes and his wife Cathy Hughes [an AFC Member of Parliament] working for a company associated with the Amaila Falls Hydro Project.

Chairman of the AFC, Nigel Hughes
Chairman of the AFC, Nigel Hughes

The AFC in a statement says it “considers the recent character assassination of two of its leaders a feeble attempt to destroy the party’s credibility. As such, we assure our constituents, the Guyanese people, of our deep regard and unshakeable commitment to equal rights and justice for all. In light of this, we will be presenting our Guidelines for the Conduct of Leaders to inform on the requisite attributes we feel must be demonstrated by all who commit to the process of providing leadership for our fledgling democracy. It is our position that integral to the need for quality leadership is the idea of individual freedom and respect for the right to work and association.”

The Party says it “unreservedly supports the right to work of its leaders, which is a constitutional right which is also a right to life. In attempting to discredit the integrity of these two stalwarts of people’s rights and good governance, we are again seeing how a deficient administration is clutching at straws to blind us to its own flaws and the misuse of power by a few. In 2010, long before she was elected an AFC Member of Parliament, Cathy Hughes was contracted to provide professional support services to Sithe Global, an American company that was involved in the failed Amaila Hydro Project.

Mrs. Hughes has never hidden her association with Sithe Global, and the AFC saw no conflict of interest in her association as she was required to carry her Party’s position on any and all issues relating to Sithe Global and the Amaila Hydro project, which she did with honour and conviction. The sanction for not doing so would be severe. In fact she purposefully recused herself from all inter-party discussions on the Sithe Global project.”

The AFC release further added that “Mr. Nigel Hughes, one of Guyana’s foremost lawyers, has endeared himself to a wide cross-section of the Guyanese society, making himself accessible, over some three decades, to all types of clients in a legal system that assumes that a person is “innocent until proven guilty” in a court of law. The AFC is well aware that Mr. Hughes has tirelessly represented thousands, the high and mighty as well as the down-trodden and oppressed, including mothers who mourned the loss of their loved ones at the hands of bandits or the security forces alike. The AFC respects confidentiality as the foundation of client relationship, and would never have required its leaders to breach this sacred convention. Mr. Hughes has been maligned for being the lawyer and Secretary of AFHI, the company that was to operate the Amaila Hydro plant.”

The AFC in responding to the public criticisms declared that “the Hughes’ at no time used their positions in the party to further their personal agendas and we wish to assure this nation that we stand in their defence against any such groundless assertion. In fact, we will in the next few weeks continue to provide you with clear evidence of what indeed transpired.  And this is integral to the way we will always operate as a party.”

Meanwhile, AFC Leader Khemraj Ramjattan was recently criticised for lobbying for one of the Indian companies [Fedders Lloyd] that bid and lost the contract for the Indian-government financed specialty hospital in Guyana. Ramjattan has since launched salvoes at the successful company Surendra Engineering [another Indian company] which has responded to the attacks.

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