There are now concerns that the discord between T&T and Guyana over the success of each country’s vaccine rollout is growing, after Guyana’s Attorney General Mohabir Anil Nandlall also criticised Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley.
In a social media post yesterday, Nandlall said Guyana “remains the country that has brought into its border the most vaccines.”
“The most vaccines and we have half the population of T&T.
“(Prime Minister Dr Keith) Rowley has one of the most populous countries and he measures it against Grenada, where there are about 60,000 people, half of whom are children. He measures it against St Vincent (and the Grenadines), which has about 100,000 people and then he says Trinidad is doing well,” Nandlall said in the post.
“Look how much St Vincent has brought in and how much Trinidad has. Trinidad has 1.9 million people, those have a couple of thousand people. How can you compare the two?”
Nandlall then went on to say that the matter has already been handled by United National Congress (UNC) senator Anil Roberts.
“But anyhow, Anil Roberts made all those points and there is no need for me to waste time and energy on Prime Minister Rowley. I think he has been adequately addressed, condignly dealt with,” Nandlall said as he ended that topic.
But while the comments may have been seen as inflammatory and deemed to have rejuvenated the diplomatic discomfort between the two nations over the vaccine rollout by some, in a brief telephone interview yesterday, Nandlall said that was not his intention.
“It is not my intention to re-energise what I consider to be a spent issue,” he said.
Nandlall said he hosts an hour-long programme that recaps the important weekly issues and it was merely one of them.
“I spoke for one hour, I do a weekly programme and have been doing this for over ten years,” he said.
Last week, Prime Minister Rowley found himself in hot water with Guyana after commenting on that nation’s use of the Russian-made Sputnik vaccine, which does not have World Health Organisation (WHO) approval.
Speaking at the COVID-19 update last Saturday, Rowley said only Guyana had more vaccines than T&T but noted that country was using Sputnik V vaccines, which was different from T&T’s policy to use only WHO-aprroved vaccines.
Soon after that comment, Guyana’s adviser to the Health Ministry Dr Leslie Ramsammy and the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) suggested Rowley had insulted the Guyanese people.
Since then, Foreign Affairs Minister Dr Amery Browne has issued a statement saying that he has “noted with concern the recent misleading, disrespectful and potentially damaging comments” ascribed to Ramsammy and that at no time did the Prime Minister ever disparage the vaccine programme in Guyana.
Yesterday, however, Nandlall said that he considers the issue now dead.
“I think the issue is now finished, I don’t think the issue is a continuing one,” Nandlall said.
“I didn’t weigh in on it. I said that I saw the other statements that were made, including the video of Anil Roberts and I said that I felt that the issue was adequately dealt with and there was nothing for me to add.”
Nandlall said that he believed that Ramsammy also dealt with the issue on Guyana’s behalf.
Also contacted yesterday, Browne said that he did not think that Nandlall’s recent comments would create any issues between the nations.
When asked to comment on his counterpart, Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi yesterday said that he “declined” to comment on this matter, as he is currently the chair of the Legal Affairs Committee for Caricom, which includes Nandlall.