‘Upset supporters’ paid for firm hired to push back against elections narrative

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Director General at the Ministry of the Presidency Joseph Harmon has claimed that public funds were not used to pay the U.S. lobbying firm the Government hired.

“Our supporters have come together, put together their lil $100, $3,000 and things like that and they are paying for this. No money is coming from the Government for that,” Harmon said in response to questions from the media after he visited the Civil Defence Commission (CDC) on Thursday morning.

The Washington-based JJ&B LLC was paid a retainer for April of US$40,000 and others working for the company were paid US$8,000 each, bringing the total to US$72,000.

As per requirement of the Foreign Agents Registration Act, the company published details of its work, saying it was hired by the Government of Guyana and listed Joseph Harmon as the person it engages on the matter.

Harmon did not say on what grounds the money of supporters is being used to fund a Government initiative.

The narrative the Government seeks to push is that “if the PPP gets control of Guyana, China and Russia will control the Northern region of South America, from Venezuela to Suriname, and natural resources far exceeding Saudi Arabia’s.

Harmon said Coalition supporters “from around the world” approached the party to ask what they can do to change the narrative about the elections which “continues to be perpetuated on a daily basis…in large capitals.”

Bart S. Fisher

The company was retained to push back against growing concerns in the United States over the APNU+AFC’s insistence that it had won the March 02 elections though the vote count in the largest electoral district was deemed as fraudulent.

The Director General said the false information is being spread by the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) through a lobbyist firm it hired in 2019 –Mercury Public Affairs –for that purpose.

He said it is the Government’s duty to publicise the “facts” to counter what is being perpetuated.

“We believe as a Government, it was our duty, our responsibility to ensure our narrative. The facts as they occur should be placed there in these capitals and therefore we felt it was necessary to have a company that has that access to be able to put out our side of the story,” Harmon said.

“I believe that as a country, as a Government, we have a right to ensure that the developments which have taken care in this country, that they ought not to be derailed by virtue of the narrative which goes out there that is contrary to the facts” he added.

Public documents on the U.S Department of Justice website shows four other persons receiving US$8,000 each for an initial cumulative payment of US$72,000 from the Government of Guyana.

The News Room reported that Bart S. Fisher, one of the attorneys for JJ&B LLC, who is also being paid US$8,000, had worked with the Sudanese Government back in 2011 when that nation was sanctioned by the U.S. Government to remove those sanctions.

The United States Government has threatened to implement sanctions against Guyana if a Government is sworn in using fraudulent results.

Harmon said the Dossier which is now being circulated was presented to a team of CARICOM leaders who visited Guyana in March and brokered an agreement between the President and Opposition Leader for a national recount of all ballots from March 2. He said it was also given to other persons.

However, he feels it is now attracting the public’s attention as it is now in the hands of Opposition counterparts. In fact, the documents are all public and were published on the U.S. Government’s Department of Justice website.

The dossier was in fact submitted on March 31, 2020 and was intended to be used by the firm to brief “officials of the executive and legislative branches of the U.S. Government in order to seek resolution of disputes regarding Guyana’s recent presidential election, and in order to improve relations between Guyana and the United States.”

In the U.S. Government’s latest statement on the elections crisis here, Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs of the U.S. Department of State, Ambassador Michael Kozak said the U.S Government stands with the Organisation of American States (OAS) for a credible recount of all votes cast.

“It has been 6 weeks since elections were held in #Guyana with no result. The U.S stands with @OAS_official in urging GECOM to conduct a recount as soon as possible.

“Guyanese citizens need a government elected based on a credible count of their votes

The Guyana Elections Commission has agreed to a national recount of all the votes cast on March 02 but it is yet to finalise the details of the recount plan.

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