Jan 03, 2019
In a few hours, the National Assembly is set to meet with a major issue on the agenda. Speaker of the House, Dr. Barton Scotland, is set to rule on the consequences of the historic December 21 no-confidence vote which saw a government Member of Parliament, Charrandass Persaud, voting in favor.
The 33-32 passage has seen the coalition government, contesting whether it was properly carried.
The police are said to be investigating matters of “national security” involving Persaud, from Berbice, a lawyer who has since been expelled from the AFC after that shock vote.
Persaud exited the Parliament Building that evening in the company of advisor to the People’s Progressive Party (PPP), Peter Ramsaroop. He flew out of the Ogle airport to Canada.
Back, in Guyana, there are accusations against the former MP.
There are allegations that he was paid for the vote. There are a number of things leading up to the vote that the Government, which faces a shortened term, says are coming out now.
For example, the MP gave up his law office in Berbice, and then sold his Toyota Prado vehicle.
The People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR), the biggest party in the APNU faction, said it is investigating links that a Trinidad businessman may have paid off the MP, whose one vote in favour of the motion has seen its passage.
Under the Constitution of Guyana, the passage of the motion means that Government has to resign and hold elections within three months, unless there is an agreement with the Opposition to shift to a later date.
Kaieteur News tracked down the lawyer who was questioned about events leading up to the vote.
I can’t be bought
Speaking from the US, Persaud insisted that he has not been offered any monies or any inducements by anybody, inside of Guyana, or outside of Guyana, to vote in the National Assembly,
“Nobody offered me money and I always say that I am not the man that you can buy because my salary if you add it up, how much can they give me? One report said I received US$60M. Another one said I left Parliament the week before to go to Trinidad to meet some oil tycoon and I was paid US$15M.”
According to Persaud, from December 3, he could not leave Guyana, as the budget debate had started, right through to the December 14.
“So which was the week (they are claiming) before December 21 that I left Guyana to go to Trinidad to meet with some oil tycoon who paid me US$15M? Would I fetch that money across the border…in my suitcase? My hand piece has to be scanned? Where is the money? Who do I have in Trinidad to leave it with?”
The former AFC official, who has harsh words for the AFC, a party he said he sacrificed to put into office, challenged Government to check his bank records.
“They can subpoena my account if they think they have a criminal charge against me. The only wrong I have done in Guyana, my friend, and I will say this publicly, I said this to the former Commissioner of Police, Seelall Persaud, that the only wrong I do in Guyana is that I speed.
“I drive my car above the speed limit on a number of occasions, from court to Parliament or from one court to the next.”
The decision to vote was a clear one that was based also on the appeal to the public and Government MPs, by Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo, to vote on their conscience.
“Jagdeo did it to confuse them. I did it out of clean and clear conscience. Right now, I need money to pay my bills, to get back to my practice,” Persaud said.
With regards to the debate on his dual citizenship, which the government is challenging, Persaud disclosed that indeed that he travelled on his Canadian passport…he holds dual citizenship in Guyana and Canada.
He dismissed criticisms of Government and noted that the Constitution only warned about loyalty to another country, which would prevent someone to be sitting here in the National Assembly as a lawmaker.
The lawyer said he came back to Guyana in 1998-1999, applying successfully for a remigrant status. He received a duty free vehicle as part of benefits.
He then “established himself as a law student, then as a lawyer and as a businessman ‘running things’ in Guyana. And again, I was dedicated to Guyana.”
With regards to money, Persaud said that because of the situation, he missed his installment to the Scotiabank.
He insisted that he was making enough monies, more than even his AFC colleague, Minister of Public Security, Khemraj Ramjattan, of whom he is highly critical now.
“My taxes for 2017 that I have to pay is almost $800,000—that is my net tax payable to GRA (the Guyana Revenue Authority). That says my income is above a particular mark, more than Khemraj Ramjattan is making as a minister. Well, that is the proof that they need to say that I am a successful lawyer.”
According to the former MP, he had confided in the PPP advisor, Peter Ramsaroop.
“Peter Ramsarroop? He had a political party and I knew the man as a friend and nothing more than that. His affiliation now to the PPP has nothing to do with me. I did tell him because I knew of his military background that I could use some help, that I am worried. That stage, I had already decided that I will not support this government any longer.”
The talks with Ramsaroop began a few days before the December 21 vote.
“I said if this thing goes down this way, and I support it, I don’t think I will be able to get out of Parliament alive. I knew the man’s military capabilities. When I told him that, I said…look if I vote in favour of the motion, I think they will kill me. I am asking if you can help me out.
“The next day, he came to me and said, ‘I can help you out.’ And then we started working on what to do and how to do on how to get out of Parliament that night.”
The lawyer said that leading up to the vote, and he really made the final decision the night before, it was sleepless nights for him.
“…I knew that my life was in terrible danger…or would have been in terrible danger once that particular vote was taken. So I sought help. I could not trust Khemraj Ramjattan and his police so I did not depend on the Minister of Public Security. That is why I solicited Peter’s help. He quite readily agreed to help me.”
According to the former AFC official, who was known in Berbice for his TV programme also, he was taken by Ramsaroop down the back steps of the Parliament Building to a car.
He insisted that he had booked his flights a while before, as before that no-confidence vote, he had planned to visit his family in Canada for the holidays, to see his grandsons.
“I contacted (Minister) Amna Ally, the Chief Whip, who treats me like I am some school child.
I contacted her to ask her when is the next sitting of Parliament after December 21. She told me… she replied to my text… so if she wants to doubt that I will present the texts to the world…that the next sitting would be the 3rd and 4th of January.”
Persaud said that he explained to the Chief Whip he is planning to visit his family.
“The vote of no-confidence was tabled and ventilated in Parliament, one week later. My flight was not an overnight booking thing to run away. What I did was secure myself as I was definitely afraid of the threat in Parliament…There was (Government MP) Jennifer Wade voice. Nobody can miss that…”Charrandass, you gun dead tonight”. Was I suppose to say that Jenny, you joking with Charran? That was a serious threat.”
Another Government MP, Jermaine Figueira, was seen “hitting me…and cussing out. He subsequently apologized for un-parliamentary words and behaviour…and people want to buy that. The viciousness, the brutality of people in the high law-making body in the land was so brutal to me because I voted my conscience. I voted according to my conscience. That is what I did that night.”(To be continued)