PRESS STATEMENT By The People’s National Congress Reform To The Press Conference, Thursday, June 17, 2004 Hall of Heroes, Congress Place, Sophia




SUMMARY:
• The PNCR signs Memorandum of Understanding with the National Democratic Party (NDP) Of Suriname aimed at Reducing Tensions and Peacefully Resolving Border Controversy.
• The Party reiterates its commitment to collaborate with GECOM and other stakeholders to produce a timely election that satisfies the highest technical and administrative standards and which wins the confidence of the Guyanese people.
• Continued intrigue as the Jagdeo Commission of Inquiry remains an illusion, Ronald Gajraj continues to perform the duties of Home Affairs Minister and Mc Donald is rewarded.
• The Parliamentary Opposition Parties have since responded to the Secretary General advising that there has been no progress on the matter nor has there been any progress in the unacceptable Presidential Inquiry announced by President Jagdeo.
• The Fourteenth Biennial Congress of the People’s National Congress Reform is scheduled to be held at Congress Place, Sophia, Georgetown from August 27th to 29th, 2004.

THE PNCR SIGNS MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING WITH THE NATIONAL DEMOCRATIC PARTY (NDP) OF SURINAME AIMED AT REDUCING TENSIONS AND PEACEFULLY RESOLVING BORDER CONTROVERSY

The PNCR, in response to an initiative from the major Parliamentary Opposition Party of Suriname, the National Democratic Party (NDP), held discussions during the past weeks, in Georgetown and New Nickerie, aimed at fostering better understanding and closer collaboration in the interest of our peoples and countries. The initiative was considered necessary by the NDP because of their assessment of the situation in Suriname, where unnecessary tensions had developed and the people were led to believe that Guyana was on a deliberate path of confrontation. There was also a deep concern that the increased tensions were being used for narrow political interests in domestic politics. Consequently, it was felt that the major opposition political parties ought to play a more pivotal role in finding solutions to the myriad problems that beset our peoples.

During those discussions both parties recognized that, while the present problems between our two countries spring from our common colonial historical experience, the border controversy has been a source of tensions and a distraction from the pursuit of economic and social programmes to improve the quality of lives of our peoples. Despite the attainment of political independence the present state of economic development is far from satisfactory. Consequently, both Parties acknowledged the need to accelerate economic development of our countries and agreed that the urgent and peaceful resolution of the controversy will redound to the benefit of both our countries and peoples.

The Parties recognized that the Arbitration process has created windows of opportunities whereby other agreements can be made and agreed to urge both Governments and Opposition Parties to create an atmosphere conducive to rapprochement so that the resources of our countries can be urgently exploited for the benefit of both our peoples. The Parties also resolved to play a constructive role in this process by supporting our Governments to settle this issue in a mutually satisfactory manner without utilizing our scarce resources which could be better used for improving the lives of our citizens.

The two political Parties, taking into consideration that our peoples are closely tied by historical experiences, family bonds and common interests, agreed to continue the dialogue to promote and foster good neighborly relations, closer cooperation and friendship.

Last week end, Saturday June 12th and Sunday June 13th, Party Leader Mr. Robert Corbin, MP, General Secretary, Mr. Oscar Clarke and Central Executive Member Mr. Basil Williams, MP, traveled to New Nickerie, Suriname to conclude the discussions with a delegation from the NDP after which a Memorandum of Understanding was signed. It was agreed that the text of this memorandum of Understanding would be released by both Parties to the media in our respective countries today, Thursday June 17. It is our hope that this initiative will go a long way in reducing tensions between our two countries and create the climate for the early and amicable resolution of our differences.

GECOM

The PNCR has received from GECOM an official copy of the report done by Mike James and commissioned by GECOM, titled “A Study of the Compilation, Transmission and Publication of Elections Results for the Last and Previous General Elections and Recommendations for a Revised System for the Declaration of Election Results”. It would be recalled that a few weeks ago, the Party had expressed alarm over the appearance of excerpts of this report in the print media when the party itself had not received a copy. GECOM has responded to our complaint and has sent us a copy of Mr. James’ report along with GECOM’s own comments on its secretariat’s analysis of the report.

The PNCR is now in the process of studying these reports. In its initial assessment, however, the Party has already sensed that it will soon have to discuss with GECOM its positions on key matters such as:

• the definition of a “near perfect” election,
• the deadline for the official declaration of election results,
• provision of preliminary results by GECOM and whether this distracts from its main functions,
• extended opening time for polling,
• disenfranchisement of voters due to administrative inefficiencies at GECOM,
• compilation and declaration of results in polling districts.

The Party has noted that in GECOM’s comments on the Mike James report, it repeatedly signals its intention to meet with stakeholders to discuss these and other issues. The PNCR welcomes this initiative and looks forward to engaging GECOM at the earliest opportunity.

The Party reiterates its commitment to collaborate with GECOM and other stakeholders to produce a timely election that satisfies the highest technical and administrative standards and which wins the confidence of the Guyanese people.

THE INTRIGUE OVER THE INQUIRY CONTINUES

On Thursday June 10th last the PNCR stated that there was evidence available that the Government and the PPP/C had commenced a series of actions aimed at terrorizing and bribing potential witnesses to the proposed Presidential Commission of Inquiry into Death Squads in Guyana. The following day, Friday 11th, the PNCR publicized on Channel 9 Television Station some of the information which informed its statement. That publication was necessary because on Thursday evening last, an unsuccessful attempt was made in Georgetown to abduct a potential witness to the Commission. That witness had made certain information available and had indicated to certain persons his intention of appearing before the proposed Commission of Inquiry. The young man barely escaped his abductors and is now in hiding.

The recent confirmation by George Bacchus that there were indeed efforts to coerce and bribe him with $10 M to recant on allegations he made about the involvement of the Minister of Home Affairs in the operations of a Death Squad, is clear evidence of a conspiracy to cover up. The clandestine involvement of a GINA reporter and equipment, a PPP/C Parliamentarian not known to be close to Gajraj and at least one senior police officer, is a confirmation that the conspiracy goes beyond Gajraj.

Since these developments the Nation has heard some strange stories from PPP/C Member of Parliament Shirley Edwards and PYO activist, Michael Gordon. The tangled web they weaved to explain their involvement could only deceive themselves. According to Gordon he went to make the tape of Bacchus in his personal capacity. What was the objective? That is rather strange since as an employee of the Government Information News Agency (GINA), such a development would have been a legitimate news story for publication, if indeed Bacchus had invited him to make the recording. Further, since Gordon’s name appears regularly in the letter columns, writing in support of the PPP/C, one wonders how this story never became the subject matter of one of his letters. Why was there silence until after the PNCR exposed the plot? PPP/C MP Shirley Edwards should hang her head in shame for allowing herself to be used by the PPP/C in such a despicable manner.

The PNCR has noted that the witness tampering efforts coincided with the announcement of the Jagdeo Commission of Inquiry. Further, the limited terms of reference of the inquiry is obviously tailor-made to facilitate the use of the $10M tape to exonerate Gajraj; a clear confirmation that President Jagdeo himself is involved in the cover-up. What is even more important is that it is now clear that the Jagdeo commission is a vehicle to derail the processes of justice and allow Gajraj and the other perpetuators of these heinous crimes to walk free.

The PNCR has noted that the PPP/C posture and actions in relation to the death squad allegations has undergone serious transformation. The Party has obviously moved from a position where it was concerned about its reputation as a revolutionary, progressive and democratic party as envisaged by Dr. Cheddi Jagan. It is now at a position where in a brazen and boldface manner, it is communicating by its actions and posture that it will not allow evidence to be tendered that will implicate the Minister of Home Affairs and other PPP/C officials. Their position is not “we were not involved” but rather “we will not allow the evidence to be tendered because we are Government.” This is indeed a dangerous development.

The PNCR urges all stakeholders to take note of the PPP/C’s attitude. Stakeholders will have to be careful that they do not tacitly sanction PPP/C involvement in death squad operations. The PNCR will never countenance the involvement of any Government in death squad operations and sees the support for such endeavors by any stakeholder as support for the murder and execution of its constituents.

OPPOSITION PARTIES WRITE AGAIN TO UN SECRETARY GENERAL

The Parliamentary Opposition Parties received a letter dated, June 7, 2004 from the UN Secretary General in response to their letters of May 6th and May 18th requesting his support in ensuring that there is an Independent and Impartial investigation into death squad allegations in Guyana. In that letter the Secretary General expressed his continued interest in a “just and transparent inquiry” which is “commonly accepted by all Guyanese people”.

The Parliamentary Opposition Parties have since responded to the Secretary General advising that there has been no progress on the matter nor has there been any progress in the unacceptable Presidential Inquiry announced by President Jagdeo. The Secretary General was also informed there has been a further deterioration of the situation since there has emerged in the public domain credible evidence of attempts by persons operating on behalf of the government to suborn, intimidate and tamper with evidence and potential witnesses to any inquiry.

The Opposition political Parties at their meeting last week agreed on a programme of action to advance the struggle for an Independent and Impartial Inquiry.

14th BIENNIAL CONGRESS OF THE PEOPLE’S NATIONAL CONGRESS REFORM

The Fourteenth Biennial Congress of the People’s National Congress Reform is scheduled to be held at Congress Place, Sophia, Georgetown from August 27th to 29th, 2004.

Under the theme, “Building a Platform for Peace, National Cohesion and Reconstruction”, the Congress will seek to fine tune the Party’s approach to Governance of our Republic in the immediate future.

At present, some thirteen working groups are busy preparing to welcome the delegates, observers and specially invited guests. Indications are that a large contingent of delegates and observers from Party groups overseas will be in attendance at Congress; additionally some fraternal Parties from the Caribbean have been invited to send delegations.

The Congress Secretariat will be hosting a special media briefing whereat more details of the Congress preparations will be given.


People's National Congress Reform
Congress Place, Sophia,
Georgetown, Guyana.
Thursday, June 17, 2004