President Dr Irfaan on Sunday lashed out at naysayers who have been making and spreading “reckless statements” about his recent visit to the United States and warned that he will not allow persons to play politics with Guyana’s future.
On the sidelines of the sod-turning ceremony for a Paediatric and Maternal Hospital, the Head of State made reference to articles that suggested he was “summoned” to the US which had “ulterior motives” in the region.
But President Ali contended that the US is a bilateral partner of Guyana just like the United Kingdom, China and Cuba.
“[I] saw some headline with this relationship with the US, and I went there, and the US has ulterior motives in the region. Absolute nonsense! In all my discourse with all the partners, and we’re very frank [in our] discussions, ultimately what we represent is the best interest of Guyana, the partners will represent the best interest of their country, and together we represent what is best in our relationship and the development of our relationship,” he pointed out.
Last week, President Ali led a team of Government officials to Washington, DC, where he had high-level engagements with a series of US leaders including Vice President Kamala Harris and Secretary of State Antony Blinken on a variety of areas.
One of the major outcomes of the visit was a US$2 billion Memorandum of Understanding signed between Guyana and the US EXIM Bank.
According to the Head of State on Sunday, this deal speaks to the seriousness of the relationship as well as the strong bilateral partnership and strategy that the US and Guyana are embarking on.
Moreover, the Guyanese leader noted that while those meetings held last week in the US capital were excellent, they were not without very hard work and little sleep – something which he said the critics will never do to advance the development of Guyana.
“They will never put an ounce of energy behind what we did last week. Never! It’s not easy. They believe it’s easy to start at five in the morning and work and get back to the hotel just in time to review the next day and perhaps get a few hours’ sleep for the next meetings.”
“I have a little son too [whom] sometimes I don’t speak to for three or four days because of the scheduling. Those behind the headline would never understand that because they don’t have to put the work in behind that. They would never understand and I intend to speak about it because I’m beginning to get tired of the naysayers,” he posited.
In fact, the President highlighted that this pattern is now even more worrying since the attacks have become personal. This, he outlined, can damage the country’s reputation – something which the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Administration has been working tirelessly to repair since assuming office almost two years ago.
“In the middle of a very high-level important conversation with our bilateral partners, you have all these reckless statements… when we’re advancing specific cause and results for our country. What are they trying to achieve? I promised myself I will not address it but it had to because it must not continue without being addressed,” he stressed.
Moreover, President Ali further outlined that every US official that he requested to meet during his visit he met, with the exception of Congressman Hakeem Jeffries.
Jeffries, who is a representative of parts of Brooklyn and Queens in New York, which is home to a large Guyanese population, has been closely aligned with APNU/AFC Opposition supporters and makes public statements about discrimination in Guyana.
The Guyanese leader said he had instructed the Foreign Affairs Ministry and Guyana’s Ambassador to the US, Samuel Hinds, to request a meeting with the Congressman but he never responded.
“He has not responded to the Ambassador’s invitation. Ask yourself why. If you have all these concerns why you haven’t attended a meeting that you were invited to? Stop playing politics with the future of a country. This President will not allow it. I will speak about it and in stronger terms, I’ll speak about it,” Ali declared.
Nevertheless, the Head of State pointed out the importance of building trust with development partners so that Guyana gets the support needed as it undertakes this unprecedented transformational path. He said a lot of time is spent redefining that path.
According to the President, Guyana has to be a country and a people that the world trusts and unless this happens, then no one will want to do business here.
“We have to be able to build trust with our partners and I have been working hard every single day on the international circuit to build that trust, bring back that trust and confidence in our country. Let me tell the naysayers something, it is not easy to go into a room to hear about your country’s democracy records and election records as negative against your country. And we have to spend hours dismantling that negative perception about our country. It is not easy and I sit there for hours, painstakingly positioning this country where it rightfully belongs.”
“Never believe that any of you have the right again to take this country back down that path and don’t believe you’ll lecture me now because I have the unfortunate job of repairing the damage that you caused. And I do so with great humility, honour, and pride because I know the vast majority of the people of this country stood up against it and worked hard against it and fought against this and stood up for what is right and they believe in what is right and know what is right and they will do what is right. And that is my greatest motivation at the end of the day,” the Guyanese leader contended.