PRESS STATEMENT By The People’s National Congress Reform To The Press Conference, Thursday, May 13, 2004 Hall of Heroes, Congress Place, Sophia




Summary:

• Gajraj’s recent non-statement
• Meeting between the PNCR and the Commissioner of Police
• Second Meeting between Representatives of the Donor Community and the Parliamentary Opposition Parties
• Mr. Robert Corbin’s visit - Fourth Annual Euromoney/Latin Finance Caribbean Investment Forum Conference to Trinidad
• The PSM flip-flop on Arbitration

GAJRAJ’S RECENT NON-STATEMENT

Few Guyanese have been fooled by the recent public announcements of Gajraj on the death squad allegations leveled against him and the government which he serves. If these announcements were meant to create the impression that the PPP/C has offered some sort of concession, the truth of the matter is they have offered nothing. Nevertheless, months of sustained pressure by ordinary Guyanese against state terrorism and the breakdown in the rule of law have forced the PPP/C to realize that they must come to their senses. The PPP/C now recognizes more than ever before that the struggle being waged by decent-minded Guyanese for the restoration of the rule of law would not go away and would not be derailed. For the PNCR, this struggle must continue until the set objectives are realized. Promissory notes, intangible concessions or unilateral actions from the government cannot begin to cleanse its soul for the atrocities of State-sponsored death squads.

We must therefore continue to wage our just campaign until such time as serious and concrete measures, endorsed by a range of stakeholders, are put in place to have an impartial and independent inquiry into state terrorism. The PNCR is already on record as presenting a minimum set of reasonable expectations for such an inquiry. We take this opportunity to emphasize a few additional issues:

• The TOR for the inquiry must not be a unilateral decision of the government. It must be a document negotiated by and agreed to by local stakeholders

• Equally, the panel of experts and investigators must be selected and agreed to by stakeholders.

• There must be clear timelines for the investigation.

• The fate of the findings of the enquiries must not be left up to the discretion of the President.

Until such time as these and other conditions are in place, the PNCR will continue its public actions. We have heard nothing thus far to change our minds, for instance, about the rule of law activities planned for this week. Today, Thursday, the party will therefore join the PMJ in a rule of law march from 11 am. And tomorrow, the party will participate in a March and public meeting starting from 3 pm.

MEETING BETWEEN THE PNCR AND THE COMMISSIONER OF POLICE

On Monday 10th May 2004 the Leader of the PNC/R together with senior members of the party met with Commissioner of Police, Mr. Winston Felix, and senior members of the GPF at Police headquarters, Eve Leary.

This was the first official meeting between the party and the Commissioner since his accession to office. The meeting which lasted over an hour was both frank and cordial.

The party took the opportunity to place on record its concerns which include the high incidence of crime; the unlawful operation of some community policing groups; the involvement of Presidential guards in unlawful acts; the issuance of firearms license; the high number of illegal firearms in the country; the brutal methods of interrogations still being carried on by some policemen and the high incidence of fatal accidents and lawlessness in the use of our roads.

The Commissioner and his team were very forthright in answering all the concerns raised by the Party. We were assured that the police force was determined to bring the crime situation under control and the Commissioner committed himself to examine and where necessary follow up all concerns raised by the PNCR. He also indicated his willingness to meet with all stakeholders.

The Party made several suggestions including the need for the force to reach out to communities; the need for the strengthening of information gathering techniques; the need to acquire appropriate crowd control equipment and the need to revisit the ticketing system.

The PNCR reiterates its support for the Guyana Police Force as it seeks to discharge its mandate of Serve and Protect in a professional manner

SECOND MEETING BETWEEN REPRESENTATIVES OF THE DONOR COMMUNITY AND THE PARLIAMENTARY OPPOSITION PARTIES:

The Parliamentary Opposition Parties - PNCR, WPA and ROAR - had their second meeting with representatives of the Donor Community, in the UNDP board room on Tuesday 2004 May 11 at 09:00 hrs.

This meeting, like the first one, on 2004 April 29, took place in an atmosphere which enabled open and frank exchanges of views.

The Parliamentary Opposition Parties explained their rationale for appealing to the Secretary General of the United Nations, particularly since nothing has happened to inspire confidence that the President and his Government are committed to the timely holding of an independent and impartial public inquiry into the allegations of the existence and operation of a state-sponsored Death Squad under the supervision of the

Minister of Home Affairs and possibly other Government functionaries.

The Donor Community expressed their interest in the early resumption of the Constructive Engagement process. The Parties reminded them that the resumption of any Constructive Engagement process must be based on wider representation, including Civil Society and the Parliamentary Opposition Parties.

The Parliamentary Opposition Parties were, however, unanimous in their reiteration of their position that the holding of the Inquiry - under conditions which satisfy internationally accepted standards for independence and impartiality - is a necessary condition for the creation of an environment of confidence and trust for other future developments.

MR. ROBERT CORBIN’S VISIT - FOURTH ANNUAL EUROMONEY/LATIN FINANCE CARIBBEAN INVESTMENT FORUM CONFERENCE TO TRINIDAD

The Leader of the PNCR, Mr Robert Corbin, is at present in Trinidad and Tobago attending the Fourth Annual Euromoney/Latin Finance Caribbean Investment Forum Conference on investment and financial opportunities. Mr Corbin was invited to attend this conference at which will be present regional and international business people, bankers, investors and representatives of the European donor community. Prime Minister of T&T, Patrick Manning, is slated to open the conference. Guest presenter is Prime Minister of Jamaica, P J Patterson.
THE PSM FLIP-FLOP ON ARBITRATION

The PPP/C Government continues its policy of repression against Trade Unions. Its puerile attempt to derail the arbitration with the Guyana Public Service Union in respect of increased wages and salaries for 2004 to 2006 is manifest. The GPSU refused to be intimidated by the antics of Gopaul, and issued their own threat of industrial action if Gopaul did not return to arbitration. He quickly did so proffering some weak excuse about the GPSU’s good behaviour.

The PNCR has noted that Dr. Gopaul has had to leave the country to attend a sick relative in the USA. Whilst commiserating with Dr. Gopaul’s personal situation, the PNCR nevertheless hopes that the arbitration process would not be held hostage due to the absence of one government official.

The PNCR congratulates the GPSU for resisting Government’s effort to trample upon its constitutional right as trade union to bargain for better remunerative packages for its members. It urges all Trade Unions to be resolute in preserving the collective bargaining process.

The PNCR condemns the refusal of the PPP/C Government to pay the annual subvention to the GTUC and calls on it to remedy this aberration.

People’s National Congress Reform
Congress Place, Sophia,
Georgetown, Guyana.
Thursday, May 13, 2004