Meeting with fmr. Presidents: Granger in Cuba, Ramotar agrees to meet
Days after President Irfaan Ali announced that he dispatched invitations to all former presidents for an “open-flow meeting”, only one former President has confirmed his attendance.
Efforts to reach President Ali’s immediate predecessor, David Granger on Tuesday proved futile.
However, a source at the People’s National Congress Reform (PNC/R) headquarters (Congress Place), Sophia told the News Room that Granger is out of the country. Granger, who is said to be in Cuba for his routine medical checkup, is expected back at Congress Place sometime next week.
After being diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a type of blood cancer, the former President has been seeking medical attention in Cuba but was cleared by doctors of having the cancer in January this year.
The source could not say if the invitation to the meeting with President Ali was received; whether Granger has responded and whether his return would be before December 15 when the meeting is expected to be held.
Granger’s response to the invitation is highly anticipated since the Opposition APNU+AFC Coalition, of which Granger is the leader, maintains that it does not recognise Ali and the PPP as the legitimate President and government.
Dr. Ali had also said previously that he would not meet with Opposition Leader, Joseph Harmon until he accepts his government as legitimate. But while Granger’s response pends, former President Donald Ramotar has confirmed receipt of the invitation and said he intends to attend the meeting.
Ramotar said he received his invitation last Friday at his home.
“I don’t know what he [President Ali] has in mind but he said it’s a working lunch meeting… yes, I will be attending,” Ramotar told the News Room by phone on Tuesday.
Former Presidents, Samuel Hinds and Bharrat Jagdeo – who is Ali’s Vice President – could not be reached on Tuesday.
It is expected that with both Hinds and Jagdeo belonging to Ali’s PPP party, they will be in attendance.
With no formal talks between the PPP and APNU+AFC coalition, Jagdeo had said that the government could not find an “honest interlocutor” in the political Opposition.
He had said the government was looking for a single Opposition official, who can speak on behalf of that team.
The meeting is being regarded as a representation of Ali’s commitment to inclusive governance although he has refused to meet with Harmon who holds a constitutional post as Opposition Leader.
President Ali had said the meeting with the former Presidents is to discuss national development.
“I think that it will be an opportunity for us to continue to share ideas, generate ideas to talk about how we see Guyana’s development from our different perspectives; and then to work out a model and a framework of how we engage in the future and how we have continuous contribution,” he said on Friday last.