PRESS STATEMENT By The People’s National Congress Reform To The Press Conference, Thursday, June 3, 2004 Hall of Heroes, Congress Place, Sophia
• To our three current World Champions the PNCR says continue to keep the Golden Arrowhead flying.
• Ronald Gajraj continues to perform the duties of Home Affairs Minister up to this very minute. Indeed, since President Jagdeo announced his intention to set up the farcical commission of inquiry, Gajraj has been a mass of orchestrated business.
• Guyanese are flocking to leave these shores in even greater numbers because many have become despaired of the governments confused and inconsistent economic policies, because they have suffered enough from the deteriorating security and crime situation, because those who are public servants have become fed up with the arrogance and callousness of their treatment by the government and can see no future for themselves and their children.
• The PNCR remains committed to nation building in an atmosphere of equality and fair play and will not allow itself to be blamed for the consequences of Jagdeo’s intransigence and near sightedness.
• The visits by Baroness Valerie Amos and Sir Paul Reeves were conducted in a cordial atmosphere, where there were a wide range of discussions on current matters of mutual interest.
CONGRATULATIONS TO GWENDOLYN "STEALTH BOMBER" O'NEIL THE NEW IBWA WORLD CHAMPION
The PNCR extends warmest congratulations to Gwendolyn "Stealth Bomber" O'Neil on her historic victory on Saturday 29th May 2004 at the National Park. By becoming Guyana's first female boxer to win a world title Ms O'Neil's has assured her place in the annals of Guyana's sporting history.
The PNCR supports Ms O'Neil's call for a car and a house for herself and family. We are confident that the government of Guyana will ensure that our newest world champion receives all the accolades and material benefits given to Guyana's other world champions Andrew "Six Head" Lewis, “Vicious" Vivian Harris and Wayne "Big Truck" Braithwaite.
The Party also extends congratulations to Holland's Entertainment Promotions for staging the first ever world title fight in Guyana. We salute the promoter’s efforts in ensuring the presence of our two reigning male world boxing champions at ringside during this historic fight. We express our gratitude to both "Vicious" Vivian and Wayne "Big Truck" for traveling to Guyana to be there for the "Stealth Bomber"
To our three current World Champions the PNCR says continue to keep the Golden Arrowhead flying.
GAJRAJ'S CONTINUED ACTIVITIES AS HOME AFFAIRS MINISTER
The public would have noted that Ronald Gajraj continues to perform the duties of Home Affairs Minister up to this very minute. Indeed, since President Jagdeo announced his intention to set up the farcical commission of inquiry, Gajraj has been a mass of orchestrated business. Over the last week alone, the accused manager of State-sponsored death squads has directly, and totally unnecessarily, intervened to prevent two Canadian lawyers from meeting with local teachers and nurses to discuss work opportunities in Canada. Gajraj next appeared at the Annual Community Policing conference, held on Sunday, May 30, 2004 and at the swearing-in ceremony of the new GDF Chief of Staff on Monday, May 31, 2004.
The PPP/C’s strategy, of course, is to create the impression that, with the announcement of the presidential commission of inquiry, the political climate has normalized; that the citizens of this country consider the issue of state-sponsored terrorism to be settled; and that the people’s grief and outrage have abated. The PNCR warns against such miscalculations.
The PNCR, along with other political and social organisations, has already publicized the shortcomings of the still in limbo Jagdeo Commission of Inquiry. We have pointed to the limitations both of the terms of reference and of the composition of the panel. We continue to insist on our demands, which we have made public. These demands are grounded in legal standards, in international practices and in the expectations of the Guyanese people themselves. And while the PNCR recognizes the need for flexibility in any process of consultations with the government and other stakeholders, the party will stick firmly to the position that any inquiry into the death squads must win the confidence of the Guyanese people by its scope, independence, impartiality and conformity to internationally accepted standards.
The emergence of state-sponsored death squads in our society is not a stand-alone or isolated phenomenon. This issue has fundamental ramifications and poses serious threats for democratic governance in Guyana. All citizens should now examine the question of our governance more urgently and incisively than before. The PNCR must question the integrity and fairness of any future election in the present environment, especially in terms of the citizen’s freedom to vote according to his or her conscious, free from direct or implied threats to their safety. Should the death squad issue remain unresolved and should it continue to cast a dark shadow over our individual and collective consciousness, we must expect the PPP/C to use this to its advantage. No one would be foolish to think otherwise. These are some of the considerations that the PNCR’s insistence that the existence of death squads issue must be dealt with to the satisfaction of the nation and a new system of governance instituted to ensure that the future governance of the country is undertaken under conditions which are nationally accepted as being fair and just.
There are persons who may be tempted to take the easy way out by calling for the acceptance of the evidently inadequate and unacceptable Jagdeo Presidential Commission. Such persons should note the consequential negative publicity already being given to Guyana internationally. Their precipitate acquiescence to the glaring limitation of the Jagdeo Commission, before determining its conformity with minimum international standards for guaranteeing its independence and impartiality, is in fact aiding and abetting efforts to protect the perpetuators of these crimes from the processes of justice. Until it becomes clear that a Commission that meets certain minimum international standards has been established, the good name and reputation of Guyana will continue to be tarnished.
The PNCR calls on all stakeholders, not withstanding their previous comments, to raise their voices in a simultaneous call for a Commission that meets minimum international standards for engendering public confidence that it will ferret out the truth. It is our solemn patriotic duty.
GOVERNMENT EMBARASSED BY IMMIGRATION MEETING
The Government is unable to cover up the embarrassment caused by the recent meeting at the GPSU Hall where lawyers from the Canadian firm IPACS came to advise Guyanese on emigration to Canada. According to reports, the visitors brought 80 forms with them for their meeting and were completely surprised by the hundreds of people who turned up at the meeting anxious to flee from their homeland. Listening to the President’s Independence message from the National Park, one would have heard of an idyllic paradise where there were jobs for all and there was peace and security. The truth was painfully exposed by the large crowd of teachers, nurses, disciplined service workers, business people and every conceivable variety of Guyanese citizen which turned up for the session.
The PNCR understands that the numbers of persons who were prepared to meet with the lawyers in Berbice was even higher and more diversified. This, more than any thing else which the PNCR or any other objective observer could say, gives the lie to the President's platitudes about the successes of his government and exposes the bleak economic and general outlook which faces our people. Guyanese are flocking to leave these shores in even greater numbers because:
• many have become despaired of the Government’s confused and inconsistent economic policies;
• they have suffered enough from the deteriorating security and crime situation;
• those who are public servants have become fed up with the arrogance and callousness of their treatment by the government and can see no future for themselves and their children.
The fact that the government’s response was to break up the meeting and harass the visitors with red tape and the bullying tactics of the egregious Gajraj will do noting to disguise the painful reality. People are fed up with this regime.
THE ESSENCE OF DEMOCRACY
The PNCR wishes to set the record straight as regards the attempts by the President to contact the Leader of the Opposition, Mr. Robert Corbin, prior to the naming of the Commission of Inquiry into the death squads. There is genuine misunderstanding in the minds of some citizens, fostered no doubt by PPP/C mischief making, over the nature of this communication. The PNCR wishes to state categorically that at no time did the President seek to consult with Mr. Robert Corbin on any aspect of the Commission of Inquiry. The Office of the President merely sought to inform Mr. Corbin of the President’s decision to name the Commission. Consultation is an altogether different process. We have attached the letter sent to Mr. Corbin from the HPS to substantiate the fact that no consultation was intended or attempted.
Many observers have seen it fit to venture opinions on the rights and responsibilities of the President of Guyana regarding the appointment of Commissions of Inquiry. Some say that the President has no duty legal, moral, or otherwise, to consult with the Opposition political parties and members of civil society before a Commission of Inquiry is established under the provisions of the Commissions of Inquiry Act, Chapter 19:03 of the Laws of Guyana. The PNCR accepts that on the face of it the provisions are silent vis-à-vis consultation but argues strenuously that, in keeping with good and acceptable democratic norms and practices, a matter as nationally sensitive and poignant as the existence of state sponsored death squads, cannot be dealt with unilaterally.
The PNCR believes further that in the spirit of the new constitutional reforms emanating from the Herdmanston Accord and St. Lucia Statement which ushered in the 1999 Constitution Reform Commission process, a new ethos of inclusivity and consensus building was spawned which was meant to usher in a dispensation of consensus democracy characterized by the dialogue and constructive engagement processes.
It is therefore hypocritical, dangerous and distressing to hear the PPP/C government and its acolytes claim that there was no right of consultation required by law.
The essence of any functioning democracy is the manner in which the views and contributions of all groups are taken into account when decisions are being taken in the national interest. Regrettably, the decision to rely on a decades old law to present a veneer of transparency and accountability has fallen palpably short, and the government has yet again displayed its burning desire to take this country into autocratic rule.
The PNCR remains committed to nation building in an atmosphere of equity and fair play and will not allow itself to be blamed for the consequences of Jagdeo’s intransigence and near sightedness.
VISITS BY BARONESS VALARIE AMOS AND SIR PAUL REEVES
Earlier this week, the Leader of the Opposition and of the People’s National Congress Reform, Mr. Robert H.O. Corbin was paid courtesy calls by firstly Baroness Valerie Amos, Leader of the British House of Lords, who was on a private visit to Guyana, her country of birth, and secondly by Sir Paul Reeves, Special Envoy to the Secretary General of the Commonwealth whose delegation included Mr. Matthew E.K. Neuhaus, Director of Political Affairs of the Commonwealth Secretariat and Ms. Juliet Solomon, Special Advisor (Caribbean and Pacific) in that division.
During these visits which was conducted in a cordial atmosphere, there were wide ranging discussions on current matters of mutual interest.
People's National Congress Reform
Congress Place, Sophia,
Thursday, June 3, 2004
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