PRESS RELEASE People’s National Congress Reform Congress Place, Sophia, Georgetown, Guyana. Monday, January 10, 2005

The PNCR notes the haste with which the Office of the President has unilaterally announced its date for a debate between President Jagdeo and Mr. Corbin, thus confirming the PNCR’s previously stated assessment that this proposal is part of the PPP/C’s usual gimmickry and infantile behaviour.

The Leader of the PNCR has already publicly stated his willingness to “debate the President anywhere, anytime and on any national subject”.

The General Secretary of the PNCR, in his 5th January 2005 response to Dr Luncheon’s letter of 23rd December 2004, clearly outlined the pre-conditions for such an engagement.

The relevant paragraphs of this letter states as follows:

“With respect to your suggestion of a public engagement between President Jagdeo and Leader of the Opposition, Mr. Robert Corbin, I wish to advise that, as already publicly stated, Mr. Corbin is prepared to engage Mr. Jagdeo at any time and at any place and on any subject. We note, however, that President Jagdeo while overseas in New York choose to make this offer through his Press Liaison Officer using the international media. This approach naturally created doubts about the sincerity of the proposal.

It ought to be emphasised that the PNCR considers that public engagements between the President and the Leader of the Opposition should not to be a periodic event to be invoked at the convenient behest of the President, rather, that should be a regular feature of a functioning democracy. In this regard, the Agreement on equitable access to the State media offers a useful medium for the Leader of the Opposition to respond on a regular basis to issues raised in the public domain by the President.

In finalising any arrangement for the proposed engagement, therefore, the PNCR insists that such an engagement must be preceded by the implementation of this agreement and an undertaking that access to the State Media by the Leader of the Opposition be a continuous feature of public life. In addition, Mr. Corbin proposes that the subject matter of any engagement must in addition to those mentioned in your letter dated December 23,

2004, to include issues such as Inclusive Governance, the Escalating Drug Trade and Money Laundering and the Crime and Security situation. A response to these proposals will be welcome.”

Instead of addressing these pre-conditions, Dr. Luncheon, in his usual unprincipled way, replied in a letter dated 5th January 2005 but delivered to us on 7th January 2005 after it had already been released to the media, unilaterally proposing 28th January 2005 as the date set by President Jagdeo for the public debate with Mr Corbin.

The General Secretary of the PNCR replied immediately upon the receipt of Dr. Luncheon’s letter on 7th January, expressing the hope that their anxiety to fix a date for the debate is matched by their willingness to speedily implement the above pre-conditions.

To avoid any further distortions the PNCR now makes available to the media copies of the relevant correspondence on this issue.

Dr Luncheon’s letter to Mr Clarke Dated 2004 – 12 – 23
Mr Clarke’s letter to Dr. Luncheon Dated 2005 – 01 - 05
Dr Luncheon’s letter to Mr. Clarke Dated 2005 – 01 – 05
Mr. Clarke’s letter to Dr. Luncheon Dated 2005 – 01 - 07

It is also well known that the conditions and modalities for a debate must be first discussed and agreed by the two sides in advance of the fixing and announcement of a date for such an encounter.

Clearly the PPP/C’s unilateral choice of that date is intended to divert attention from issues of significant importance to the NATION. For example the National Budget which is slated to be laid in Parliament around that very date.

The PNCR will neither be dictated to nor lured into any propaganda campaign of the PPP/C.

People’s National Congress Reform
Congress Place, Sophia,
Georgetown, Guyana.
Monday, January 10, 2005