Meeting with fmr. Presidents will be held quarterly

-‘wide-ranging’ issues discussed – President Ali

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President Irfaan Ali has hailed Tuesday’s meeting with three former Presidents a success, noting that “wide-ranging” issues were discussed in an effort to move the country forward and a decision was taken to have the meeting done on a quarterly basis.

The meeting was held at State House and was attended by former Presidents Donald Ramotar, Samuel Hinds and Bharrat Jagdeo. Former President, David Granger, declined the invitation last Friday, citing concerns with the agenda.

But President Ali, in a video comment released by his office Tuesday evening, made a final plea to President Granger participate in future meetings.

“It was a very wide-ranging discussion covering various areas of regional and international importance, so we all made it very clear that all the former Presidents will be invited once every quarter. We’re hoping that former President Granger would understand the necessity in attending this meeting and being part of this. It’s a national effort ensuring that we harness the ideas of our former Presidents who are still available to us,” President Ali said following the meeting.

President Irfaan Ali (second left) with former Presidents Samuel Hinds (right), Donald Ramotar (second right) and Bharrat Jagdeo (left), who is currently serving in Ali’s cabinet as Vice President (Photo: Office of the President/December 15, 2020)

He noted that the discussions Tuesday were “free-flowing” but the ideas are not at the level of implementation as yet.

“This is not a one-off engagement; this is an engagement that would occur every quarter among the presidents and it’s focused at a very strategic level. It is not at an implementation level.”

According to the Head-of-State, some of the issues discussed were border security, environment, climate change, oil and gas sector, national security and constitutional reform.

The former presidents also touched on electoral reform.

“How do we strengthen our electoral system, looking at having external support in our legislation, stronger penalties, and clearer definition in terms of the systems and so on,” President Ali said.

The issue of national unity was discussed and ideas were shared on reviewing the Racial Hostility Act to make the penalties stronger. The former presidents also discussed with President Ali issues of governance and job creation.

The meeting is being regarded as a representation of President Ali’s commitment to inclusive governance.

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