Although he says he is still afraid for his life following a decision to vote with the opposition on the December 21st 2018 No-Confidence Motion, former APNU+AFC Parliamentarian Charrandass Persaud says he plans to return home soon and continue his law practice.
“Guyana is my home. I am self-exiled so how long would I want to stay away from my work? I cannot live in fear forever. I will return soon,” Persaud told Stabroek News, via phone, from Canada yesterday.
“I have told my family that I will return already. This is not my home, Guyana is my home. I am taking up space here. I have a grandson that was born in November but haven’t seen him as yet because I have a cold. Once I have given my final farewells to everyone, I will return,” he added.
Asked for a specific time frame, Persaud said that it will be after the meeting between President David Granger and Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo, which is scheduled for Wednesday, or when a date for General Elections is set. He said that he will gauge the political atmosphere and decide on a date of his return.
But he wants to make clear that he was not offered any current or future monetary or other benefits from the People’s Progressive Party and his return will not be to join that party.
He restated that contrary to what has been reported by some sections of the press and party supporters of government, he and Jagdeo are not friends and he does not have conversations with him and was not asked by him to defeat the government.
“I am not a friend of Jagdeo. I would see him and say ‘Good Afternoon Mr. Jagdeo’ or whatever but he and I never had a conversation. I am friends with Irfaan [Ali] and Priya [Manickchand] and so on, but no one can say I am a friend of Jagdeo’s.
It is in that vein that Persaud stressed that he was also not offered money or any political portfolio from the PPP/C and would only accept an advisory post on the basis that he could continue his law practice.
“I was not offered or did I ask to join the PPP/C. I was not offered any ministerial position, should they get into office and I would not accept a ministerial position because I want to practice,” he said.
Questioned on if he would accept an advisory or senior public service or contract position, he replied, “I can assist but I don’t intend to leave my office. If I have to leave my practice, no.”
Persaud said that many lies are being peddled about him by supporters of and by government itself and he believes to tarnish his name and reputation. As such, he feels that he has to publicly defend himself through the press or social media so that his side and the truth could be also heard.
“The government, especially that (Minister of Public Security) Khemraj Ramjattan, is saying all kinds of things about me. [They are] all lies! They went and got my record from the (Princess) casino, accessed my immigration record and all of that and I am no criminal. That is illegal and they should be taken to court. My friend and lawyer Sanjeev Datatin told me to ease off of the Facebook and do not say anything. But tell me, how can I when they are saying all these things? They just want to tarnish my name,” he stated.
“What has my gambling to do with my voting yes? I would have loved to defend myself in a court against Ramjattan or (Prime Minister Moses) Nagamootoo. My vote has nothing to do with me having dual citizenship or anything else. What is wrong with these guys? It is just showing them for who they are and the lengths they would go. I told you that I would come home and I know that they would have me arrested first thing, so that they can keep me in the lock ups for 72 hours to brutalize … These are the realities I know I have to deal with being desperate people who want to hold on to power at any cost,” he added.
Persaud said that there are also false reports that there were airport security breaches at Ogle International Airport to get him to the plane for his departure on the evening of 21st December 2018.
He explained that he had told businessman Peter Ramsaroop of his plans to vote in favour of the No-Confidence Motion and asked for his assistance in getting security so he could leave after the vote. This was because he did not trust the security services offered by the Public Security Minister. He said that after he left parliament he made a call to the Canadian High Commission and told them that he feared his life was in danger and asked for help.
“I do not remember the name of the officer I spoke with. It was a woman. She asked me if I was a Canadian citizen and if I feared my life was in danger. I told her yes to both but she asked about three questions. She told me to come to the embassy and that is when we went there. When I got there a … man came with me to the airport and waited until I boarded the flight. There was no breach…,” he said.
“I did not go out on any chartered flight or did I leave from Cheddi Jagan Airport as they are saying. I left Guyana on a flight I had pre-booked long before; it was a Liat flight to Barbados. I was afraid to be alone because of the threat I received in parliament by parliamentarians. The voice of Jennifer Wade was clear to me. I heard her saying `Charrandass you gon dead tonight’. Derek Basdeo, who is an AFC supporter… he came over and asked ‘what the (expletive) you doing?’ I had a right to be afraid”, he added.
Ramsaroop yesterday made a statement to this newspaper on the role he played in Persaud’s exit.
“On the 21st day of December, by request of Mr. Charrandass, I accompanied him to the Eugene Correia Airport and I immediately sought permission from the Airport manager to aid the safety of Mr. Charrandass until he was safely on the aircraft. Mr. Charrandass was exceedingly fearful for his life as subsequent to voting ‘yes’ in favour of the no confidence motion brought against the Government, he was assaulted in Parliament by a member of the APNU Government and told by another member of APNU Government, ‘Charrandass, you gon dead tonight’,” Ramsaroop stated.
“It is with sadness that I read that the APNU PNC Government is quick to question how I accompanied Mr. Charrandass to the plane but with the same quickness they fail to question why their members of Parliament behaved like thugs and thereafter why those thugs are not charged for assault or threatening behaviour or threatening language. Given our history …Mr. Charrandass felt that he may have been assassinated that night because he voted against the APNU PNC Government who he believed are … heartless, incompetent and unfit and improper to govern Guyana. I and the PPP will not be intimidated by the APNU/AFC Government who despite losing the ‘no confidence motion’, continue to act like tyrants we remember them to be as they refuse to demit office and set a date for elections as the Constitution of the Co-operative Republic of Guyana mandates,” he added.
Ramsaroop was formerly a member of the PNCR.
Persaud said that since him his arrival in Canada, he has had much time for retrospection and would not change his actions. He said that while his vote has hurt his AFC party comrades and made APNU members cry, he cannot have a change of heart for a party that “has been heartless to the cries of the sugar workers”.
“I exercised my conscience and I want them now to tell me now how they feel about them now. They did not give a rat’s ass about the sugar workers. When the decision to close the estates came, I asked Moses to go with him. I told him the sugar workers were confused and he said that they weren’t confused when they were voting PPP. I heard how they cried and all of that. Did they cry when the sugar workers were going through turmoil? This is a party that has been heartless to the cries of the sugar workers,” he said.
Pressed on why he did not speak up before the vote, Persaud said that he did and any other AFC member true to their self would admit that he was not alone. But all their pleas to the party fell on deaf ears.
“We sent an email to Khemraj and all the AFC people asking that the 12 of us (MPs) have a caucus before the parliament sit. This is so we can decide that, this or that we would vote for or against according to party policies and promises. They brushed it aside and they said they saw it unnecessary. There was no response to that [request]. My take is Moses did not want to lose his Prime Minister position. So they said we will vote how the coalition votes. End of story. Raphael Trotman would not listen to word from us. He sided with the comments made by Volda [Lawrence]. Are those things right. Look, it was a number of things that was the last straw for me,” he added.