The President and Charrandass Persaud
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LAST week, President, Dr. Irfaan Ali and Charrandass Persaud had a mutual agreement that the latter would return home from his diplomatic posting as Guyana’s High Commissioner to India following the surfacing of serious allegations against him.
Persaud was facing an allegation of verbally abusing a woman in a foreign land. Additionally, there was footage with audio, in which Persaud could be heard lambasting the woman with the use of a string of expletives.
The incident occurred more than a year ago and came to light only recently.
The President, after a series of unrelated engagements on Tuesday last, reviewed the video and telephoned Persaud while asking the Foreign Affairs Ministry for a report on the matter.
President Ali belaboured the point that Persaud’s behaviour, as seen in a viral video, was not acceptable as a representative of Guyana abroad, and certainly was not in the country’s best interest at the time.
This is despite the fact that the former High Commissioner had documented evidence that nothing came out of the matter, noting that he was cleared of any allegations of misconduct or otherwise.
Dr. Ali appeared, in his Facebook message on the matter, to be concerned about Guyana’s image, relationship with India and other countries, and the incident itself. He said that Guyana would continue working to build and improve its relationship while it transitions through this phase in its diplomatic history.
Soon after, the Opposition Party, the PNC-led APNU+AFC said the President took too long to act and was more critical of the language used in Dr. Ali’s video message. The PNC-led APNU+AFC now wants Foreign Affairs Minister Hugh Todd to resign or be dismissed for dereliction of duty, Guyana to apologise to the alleged victim, and a host of other things.
Firstly, President Ali showed political maturity and made the right decision in the quickest possible time.
He knew the former diplomat’s conduct was not in keeping with the standard that he had expected of him as a member of Guyana’s Diplomatic Corps.
In fact, one could even say that he was embarrassed by the many expletives he heard lured at the woman, given that he would not encourage or entertain any member of his Cabinet speaking to another person in that way, much less a woman.
So, he did the right thing, regardless of the evidence of innocence, to recall the former High Commissioner back to Guyana. President Ali showed by this move, he had no interest in defending or sticking by Persaud in the defenseless act of verbal abuse.
He could not defend it morally or ethically much less politically.
Secondly, any objective mind would see the response by the combined opposition as neck-jerk, opportunistic and meritless because every single response has no credibility, double standards and hypocrisy.
The APNU+AFC had scandals involving the representatives and persons appointed to hold ambassador posts, but where were the voices like Amanza Desir, Ganesh Mahipaul and others then?
Recall, the very same man at the centre of the incident was also the person who cast the crucial vote of no-confidence in the former APNU+AFC Administration. He was part of the reason many of them ended their political and public careers.
Now, the Opposition is going to use this incident to its full extent and even beyond to get back at Persaud.
Even though the President acted out of mere foresight and took the just and high road by agreeing to recall the High Commissioner, the Opposition now wants more heads to roll and political consequences.
Calling for Todd’s resignation is not smart and is frankly taking it too far. This minister is guilty of nothing as there was no evidence or anything showing an attempt to cover up Persaud’s debacle.
Calling out civil society and women groups to get into a political firestorm is not smart, since the President has already dealt with the matter sufficiently.
Further, the historical records, campaigns to end domestic violence against women, stern policy approach of this and other PPP Governments on women, and more recently the Gender Gap Report 2022 would bear all the evidence that Guyanese need to know what is PPP’s position on women, equality, abuse, and violence in general.
So, there is no need for apology to be given on Guyana’s behalf directly to either India or the woman, as the PPP Govt has already demonstrated their value to Guyana by its actions on this matter and many others that have occurred.
The APNU+AFC appears to be basically using these groups to add flames to an already extinguished fire.
Finally, this matter exposes the need for Guyana to keep training and retooling its diplomats and members of its foreign service.
They must be equipped with the right conflict-solving and mitigation tools to handle emotive, political, diplomatic and other situation whether they are a political appointee or career diplomat.
Now that President Ali has set the bar so high, one expects that it will be maintained because if it is good for goose then it must be good for the gander. The issue is closed for many right thinking Guyanese, and now it’s back to business as usual.

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