Guyanese Opposition legislators are slated to meet soon with US House of Representatives Democratic Leader, Hakeem Jefferies and a team to discuss pertinent matters in Guyana. According to Opposition Leader, Aubrey Norton, the meeting is not an attempt to seek foreign intervention, but rather, an opportunity to raise with those officials, concerns about alleged anti-Black policies rolled out by the Irfaan Ali-led regime.
Norton’s clarification comes against the backdrop of his party’s strong stance in the past against foreigners’ involvement in Guyana’s affairs.
Between 2018 and 2020, Norton’s Coalition government unwaveringly resisted external calls triggered by advances made by the then-opposition – the PPP/C – to garner support from foreign powers to advocate for snap elections after the APNU+AFC fell to a no-confidence motion. The PPP/C’s move to gather international support was scoffed at by the APNU+AFC government. But even after the calls were made by more than 100 foreign entities including multinational blocs, agencies and organisations, the Coalition government remained resolute in its view that the cross was Guyana’s alone to bear. It warned that foreign intervention was tantamount to meddling, even as it shrugged off sanction threats from foreign powers.
Now that his party is gearing up to meet with the US House of Representatives, Norton was grilled about his party now seemingly abandoning that anti-intervention stance.
He replied: “As a party, one of our responsibilities is to keep the entire world national and international updated on the situation in Guyana. That does not follow that there will be intervention or that we’re seeking them to intervene in our affairs. What you do in this process is to bring to the fore the things that are happening in Guyana.”
Norton, however, noted that “support” may come from his US counterparts if there is a confluence of interests, but maintained that potential backing is not tantamount to intervention.
“The US Government: they have their interests, they have their principles, they have their philosophies, they will act in keeping with that. Where there is a confluence of interests, you’re likely to get support. Where there isn’t, then you’ll have to do your work to convince them. Intervention, to me, has a different connotation. You can have the right to raise a matter and that doesn’t mean that you’re seeking intervention,” the leader said.
Norton’s comments also come 10 months after his party hitched its wagon to a call made to the U.S. government by a local entity for aid in dismantling anti-Black policies it said were being implemented by the Irfaan Ali-led regime. The group urged the US Vice-President, Kamala Harris and her government to put a stop to the many “ills” perpetuated against Afro-Guyanese by the Guyana Government. The letter carried the signatures of prominent APNU+AFC members including Norton and AFC Leader, Khemraj Ramjattan. It outlined several instances of so-called discriminatory practices employed by the PPP/C government against the Afro-Guyanese community.
“We are, therefore, appealing to you, kind ladies and gentlemen, to use your high offices to influence the requisite changes,” the letter said, emphasising that only intervention can “serve to rectify the situation so that all Guyanese can once again enjoy peace, goodwill, and the patrimony of this dear land”.
Heading to Washington for this meeting are Norton, (Leader of the Opposition), Dawn Hastings-Williams, Ganesh Mahipaul, Roysdale Forde S.C, Catherine ‘Cathy’ Hughes, Deonarine Ramsaroop, David Patterson and Amanza Walton-Desir. The delegation will meet Democratic House Leader Jeffries and other Members of the House next Wednesday, September 27 on Capitol Hill.