AFC Region 10 Regional Democratic Council (RDC) member Audwin Rutherford has voiced concern about the composition of the region’s team that is continuing negotiations with government for implementation of August 21, 2012 agreement brokered to end unrest in Linden.
Regional Chairman Sharma Solomon, in his chairman’s report at the RDC’s April statutory meeting, informed the council that he had hosted a meeting with some members of the council and other members of the wider community on March 8 to discuss the lack of progress being made in the negotiations. He said participants at the meeting were given copies of a letter that was sent to the Office of the President on behalf of the region and a copy of a letter in which presidential advisor Gail Teixeira had responded on behalf of the Office of the President.
Rutherford said the impression given is that the wider council is involved in the discussions with the government but only representatives of one political party have been involved. “There is no concern for any other party to be involved,” he charged.
He further stated that the government claims that a number of meetings were postponed at the region’s request. Solomon said he could attest to two such postponements, including one that was because of the death of Councillor Leslie Gonsalves’ son. He pointed out that there were three postponements “in relation to Dr. Luncheon,” and added that the details of the postponements were not so important as to be made public.
Rutherford said he did not know when the last meeting was held between the region’s team and government, what was discussed at that meeting or when the next meeting will be held. Stating that the information was given to the councillor at the meeting on March 8, Solomon asked whether Rutherford had read the information. Rutherford replied that he had read the material but added that he was not aware of any subsequent engagement between the region’s representatives and the government.
Solomon recalled that Rutherford had queried the composition of the region’s representatives at a previous statutory meeting and it was agreed then that RDC councillors would be co-opted on to the region’s team and two were identified but Rutherford had said that he did not wish to be part of the team.
Rutherford denied that he had voiced such refusal, to which Solomon said: “Note that the option is still there…. That we have councillors from all the political parties engage in representing the region in discussing the August 21 Agreement with the government.”
Stating that the Chairman’s invitation must be recorded in the minutes of the meeting, Rutherford asked whether there was some secret that is responsible for the composition of the team. He further said: “My concern, Chairman, is for all three parties… to be involved in all the talks,” he said.
The eighteen member RDC comprises two AFC representatives, three PPP/C representatives and thirteen APNU members. “Unless all the parties are involved in all of the talks, I have no desire to be on the team,” Rutherford insisted, before pointing out that the issue has been extant for over a year with no resolution in sight. Consequently, he said, there is need “for people to be impartial and to be fair.”