By Kurt Campbell
[www.inewsguyana.com] – Head of the Presidential Secretariat and Secretary to the Cabinet Dr. Roger Luncheon has described as provoking, the continued and unrelenting implementation of the USAID funded Leadership and Democracy (LEAD) Project by the United States administration despite the Guyana Government’s objection.
Speaking to the media on Thursday morning (April 17), Dr. Luncheon said ‘bad faith’ comes to mind immediately and the actions by the Embassy and US Ambassador to Guyana Brent Hardt speaks of premeditation.
Dr. Luncheon, in the absence of an official word from the US authorities, indicating whether the project has been halted, condemned the unremitting execution, particularly since the two sides are preparing to engage each other at the bilateral level for talks.
He added that it was an unhealthy development to learn that the project was being implemented in its entirety while the two sides would meet to discuss in the face of a conflict, principally in the context of the sound bilateral relations that currently exist.
The Cabinet Secretary told reporters that it is now questionable the exact value the American administration put on maintaining and promoting sound bilateral engagements.
He reiterated the commitment made by the Guyana Government when the controversy over the project surfaced months ago to engage the US authorities but on the grounds that it would be halted until the talks were completed. This, Dr. Luncheon made clear today was non- negotiable.
He posited that the administration’s position seems not to have been heard or understood by the US authorities. He made it clear that there is currently nothing that signals a rupture to bilateral relations in its totality but acknowledged the unease the current situation presents.
The two Parliamentary Political Parties – APNU, AFC – have condemned Government’s rejection of the USAID funded Project.
The parties in separate statements registered their support for the position taken by the US Government and noted that it looks forward to the positive contribution it will provide to enhanced leadership and democracy in Guyana.
The Project which has been the subject of much debate over the last few months also received the support of the private sector, namely the PSC and GCCI, which endorsed its implementation.
Government has particularly objected to the design of the project around which the discussions are expected to be held.