The Alliance for Change considers the recent character assassination of two of its leaders a feeble attempt to destroy the party’s credibility. As such, we assure our constituents, the Guyanese people, of our deep regard and unshakeable commitment to equal rights and justice for all. In the light of this we will be presenting our Guidelines for the Conduct of Leaders to provide information on the requisite attributes we feel must be demonstrated by all who commit to the process of providing leadership for our fledgling democracy.
It is our position that integral to the need for quality leadership is the idea of individual freedom and respect for the right to work and association. The AFC unreservedly supports the right to work of its leaders, which is a constitutional right which is also a right to life. In attempting to discredit the integrity of these two stalwarts of people’s rights and good governance, we are again seeing how a deficient administration is clutching at straws to blind us to its own flaws and the misuse of power by a few.
In 2010, long before she was elected an AFC Member of Parliament, Cathy Hughes was contracted to provide professional support services to Sithe Global, an American company that was involved in the failed Amaila Hydro Project. Mrs Hughes has never hidden her association with Sithe Global, and the AFC saw no conflict of interest in her association as she was required to carry her party’s position on any and all issues relating to Sithe Global and the Amaila Hydro project, which she did with honour and conviction. The sanction for not doing so would be severe. In fact she purposely recused herself from all inter-party discussions on the Sithe Global project.
Mr Nigel Hughes, one of Guyana’s foremost lawyers, has endeared himself to a wide cross-section of the Guyanese society, making himself accessible, over some three decades, to all types of clients in a legal system that assumes that a person is “innocent until proven guilty” in a court of law. The AFC is well aware that Mr Hughes has tirelessly represented thousands, the high and mighty as well as the downtrodden and oppressed, including mothers who mourned the loss of their loved ones at the hands of bandits or the security forces alike.
The AFC respects confidentiality as the foundation of the client relationship, and would never have required its leaders to breach this sacred convention.
Mr Hughes has been maligned for being the lawyer and Secretary of AFHI, the company that was to operate the Amaila Hydro plant. In 2009, it was the Government of Guyana that wanted the American investors to establish a local company and Mr Hughes incorporated Amaila Falls Hydro Inc with the full knowledge and participation of both Sithe Global and the Government of Guyana. Neither party raised any conflict of interest concerns over the role of Mr Hughes in the formation of the company. At that time, too, Mr Hughes was neither a member nor an official of AFC.
Because of the flurry of misinformation and inaccuracies being peddled here and abroad to tarnish the character of Mr Hughes and the image of AFC, we are at pains to point out that most foreign companies when coming to invest here do not have offices in Guyana and are not sure how their investments are likely to develop. Under our law, they are required to establish a registered office at an address in Guyana and identify a person to act as Company Secretary. Invariably the address of the Attorney’s office becomes the registered address and an officer in the law firm would provide serves as company secretary.
Amaila Falls Hydro Inc was the investment entity incorporated in Guyana for the purposes of the hydro project. The principal participants in the discussions about the project were the Government of Guyana, Sithe Global, China Development Bank and China Railway – the contractor.
Mr Hughes was not an officer of any of those companies and could not have been privy to any of those discussions, agreements, technical studies and/or project costs or rate of returns.
However, when it was alleged that a conflict of interest might have arisen, Mr Hughes immediately offered his resignation as AFC Chairman, not wanting to embroil the movement in any controversy.
For the AFC, the professional services of both Ms Catherine Hughes and Mr Nigel Hughes were not deemed by the movement to be a conflict of interest as both individuals recused themselves from all discussions this party had with the Government of Guyana and Sithe Global on the hydropower project.
What we take full responsibility for is the absence of full disclosure in a timely manner of the role of these leaders, and we apologise for this critical lapse in duty. But the AFC has learned from this experience and has taken an important decision to approve guidelines for the conduct of leaders, to avoid perception of conflict of interest that could in the future compromise the integrity of the movement.
Our commitment to the people of Guyana and our unshakeable belief in the rightness of things mean that we will not sit quietly by and let those who try to destroy the credibility of the AFC succeed.
Leadership and the world of politics are fraught with half-truths that are peddled as credible, which is the reason that the AFC must respond. The party reiterates that the Hughes’s at no time used their positions in the party to further their personal agendas and we wish to assure this nation that we stand in their defence against any such groundless assertion. In fact, we will in the next few weeks continue to provide the public with clear evidence of what indeed transpired. And this is integral to the way we will always operate as a party. The people of Guyana must always be well informed about the processes and programmes that are initiated on their behalf and their well-being will always be our foremost priority.