Government has withdrawn its non-approval of the USAID-funded Leadership and Democracy (LEAD) project as part of its re-engagement with the United States.
“Yes. We have withdrawn the entire non-approval of the entire LEAD project,” Presidential Secretariat Head Dr. Roger Luncheon yesterday told a press conference.
Both countries announced earlier this month that they had agreed to temporarily put the contentious project on hold to facilitate talks between the two governments.
Luncheon explained that the withdrawal was necessary as the two sides sit down to discuss the project. “How could I sit down across the table and in good faith be negotiating when I have hanging over the bannas’ head a non-approval. I have to withdraw that non-approval… So, we have to withdraw the non-approval to allow us, in good faith, to engage,” said Luncheon.
Both Luncheon and United States Ambassador Brent Hardt on May 8th had made a joint announcement that the project would be put on hold to allow for discussions.
While Luncheon would not give a timeframe for the conclusion of talks or signing off of documents granting his government’s approval, he reiterated that a mutually beneficial project was what his government wanted.
The US Ambassador had said that he remains optimistic that the talks will be completed by the end of his tenure here in July this year.