…high commissioner still conducting internal probe
THE government is seeking the recall of Canadian diplomat Richard Beliveau who allegedly facilitated the spiriting away of former Member of Parliament Charrandass Persaud with the help of Peter Ramsaroop, who is adviser to the Leader of the Opposition Bharrat Jagdeo.
“This would be improper in any jurisdiction,” a senior Ministry of Foreign Affairs official told the Guyana Chronicle on Friday.
The men –Beliveau and Ramsaroop– breached security and diplomatic protocols on the morning of December 22, 2018 and uplifted passes at the Eugene F Correia International Airport which allowed them access to the restricted area of the airport to see off Persaud, who voted with the opposition in an attempt to topple the government.
Foreign Affairs Minister Carl Greenidge has made it clear that the airport does not have the authority to issue such passes without the authorisation of the ministry and that no request for the pass was made by the diplomat or the High Commission. It is not clear whether government is also seeking the recall of the High Commissioner Lilian Chatterjee, who reportedly was out of the jurisdiction at the time of the incident. She was summoned to a meeting with Greenidge on Wednesday to explain the action of the official.
This newspaper was told however that the high commissioner has denied any involvement in helping Persaud to flee the country. One source said that it is unclear as to whether a head of mission has ever been asked to leave the country before, but should this be the outcome, Guyana would not have to apply to anyone. “We are a sovereign state. We would just ask them to leave. We have done it in the past where staff of foreign missions have been asked to leave, and given 48 hours to do so.”
The government made it clear to the High Commission, that the foreign body is aware of protocols to be followed when operating in a sovereign state and thus viewed its participation in the Charrandass Pesaud matter as a unilateral act in violation of the Geneva Convention and on diplomatic and consular relations.
Charrandass, a government MP, said “yes” in a shocking vote to oust the current government. He was on a plane to Canada, where he is a citizen, just hours later.
It was stated that Persaud was escorted to the Eugene F Correia International Airport by Beliveau, Ramsaroop and self-confessed death squad hit man Sean Hinds, as well as Jason Abdulla, a PPP member.
The Foreign Affairs office expressed concern that the High Commission official and Ramsaroop were able to acquire protocol passes that allowed them to access restricted areas of the airport. It was stated that while Ramsaroop pretended to be part of the diplomatic party to acquire the pass, the High Commission official was himself not authorised for the document, since the ministry said it was not aware of any function the foreign official was conducting at the time that would have allowed him to use his Foreign Affairs Ministry issued identification card to acquire the preferential document.
It has been alleged that Persaud may have accepted millions of US dollars to vote against the government. Allegations are he tried to buy US$1M in gold just days before voting against the government and attempted to transfer large sums of money out of the country. Persaud had been assured of security protection from Ramsaroop for his “yes” vote on the no-confidence motion.
Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the opposition leader’s news conference on Wednesday, Ramsaroop, said: “…I mean, Charrandass is my friend, I don’t even know if he was going to vote yes or not. He just said to me, ‘if I decide to vote yes’ –and he said that publicly—‘would you help me with security’ and I said ‘absolutely, yes’,” Ramsaroop told members of the media.
But still Ramsaroop later tried to deny that he knew beforehand which way Persaud’s vote would sway. He claims that while he knew of the likelihood of Persaud leaning on the side of the People’s Progressive Party (PPP), he did not share this crucial information with his boss Jagdeo.