Guyana’s President and its Leader of the Opposition were expected to meet today to continue consultations geared at selecting persons to resuscitate defunct commissions. That meeting did not occur and now both parties are pointing accusatory fingers.

Guyana Standard understands that the Opposition Leader, Aubrey Norton was absent from the meeting that was set for this afternoon. President Dr Irfaan Ali later issued a press statement in which he iterated blistering remarks at Norton’s expense, accusing him of dereliction of his constitutional duty.

But prior to that statement, a letter purportedly written by Norton outlined the reasons for his non-attendance.

The letter was not shared with the media through channels customarily utilised by the Opposition or the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR), which is also headed by Norton and is the largest party in the Opposition bloc. Screenshots of the missive were in fact shared by a veteran journalist in a WhatsApp group.

In the letter, Norton reaffirmed his commitment to ensuring the reestablishment of these constitutional bodies but accused Ali of pussyfooting.

In the statement, which was purportedly penned by Norton, the Leader said that the invitation for the follow-up meeting today, was issued on May 27, 2020 – well beyond the agreed-upon timeframe articulated in the joint statement that was issued after the first engagement on May 13, 2022. That joint statement had, indeed, outlined that the follow-up meeting would come within seven days, making the deadline May 20, 2020.

On May 25, 2022, five days after the deadline expired, Norton called the President “disrespectful” for not facilitating the second round of consultation.

He is on record saying, “I hope that the President does not believe that when he says he wants to meet, I would disrupt my schedule of meeting the people of Guyana and doing my work just to meet with him.”

In the letter seen by this publication today, Norton said that he received the invitation to today’s follow-up meeting late on the evening of May 27, 2022, and that aside, he cannot attend because of “certain commitments and a pressing schedule”.

Guyana Standard understands that Ali’s failure to facilitate the second round of consultation was attributed to the country’s recent hosting of the Agriculture Investment Forum between May 19 and 21, 2022, and his participation in Guyana’s 56th independence anniversary celebrations.

Norton, in response, said that President Ali, prior to setting the timeline for the second meeting, ought to have foreseen these events and should have adjusted the date to suit.



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