PRESS STATEMENT By The People’s National Congress Reform To The Press Conference, Thursday, August 5, 2004 Hall of Heroes, Congress Place, Sophia




SUMMARY:

• The People's National Congress Reform will observe the 19th Death Anniversary of its Founder Leader, Linden Forbes Sampson Burnham, O.E., late President of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana, tomorrow, August 6, 2004.
• The PNCR has noted that the visit of former President Jimmy Carter, albeit delayed, has its genesis in Mr. Carter’s concern over several developments in Guyana, particularly the issues surrounding the Death Squad Affair. The PNCR therefore welcomes the initiative of Mr. Carter to visit at this time.
• As always, the PNCR stands ready to cooperate with GECOM in its efforts to fulfill its mission in a manner that Guyanese can unquestionably accept and applaud.
• The PNCR exposes GINA’s misinformation on Local Government elections.

19TH DEATH ANNIVERSARY OF THE LATE PRESIDENT OF THE CO-OPERATIVE REPUBLIC OF GUYANA

Tomorrow, August 6, 2004, the People's National Congress Reform (PNCR) will observe the 19th Death Anniversary of its Founder Leader, Linden Forbes Sampson Burnham, O.E., late President of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana.
The annual commemorative ceremony will be held at 7:00 a.m. at the “Mausoleum” in the Botanical Gardens, where floral tributes will be laid by the Burnham family, the Leader of the PNCR, Party Officials, organizations which had close association with the Founder Leader and other individuals.
The National Congress of Women (NCW), the women’s arm of the Party, will, host its annual observance at the site of the “Bust” on the lawns of its Headquarters at 44 Public Road, Kitty, at 4:30 PM tomorrow afternoon.

Meanwhile the Guyana Youth and Student Movement (GYSM) will mount a vigil at the Square of the Revolution from 6:00 PM to midnight today, and the Party’s Georgetown District will host a symposium at the City Hall, Georgetown on Sunday, August 8, 2004 at 5:00 PM. The topic of the symposium will be “Burnham’s Vision of National Service – It’s Prospects in Today’s Guyana”.
All are invited to attend these activities, as we remember, the late, Linden Forbes Sampson Burnham.
CARTER’S VISIT

The PNCR has been advised by the Carter Centre that former President of the United States of American, Mr. Jimmy Carter, will be in Guyana between August 11th and 13th. During this period, he will meet with Leader of the Opposition, Mr. Robert Corbin, as part of an active programme that is being coordinated by the Carter Center.

The PNCR has noted that this visit, albeit delayed, has its genesis in Mr. Carter’s concern over several developments in Guyana, particularly the issues surrounding the Death Squad Affair. The PNCR, therefore, welcomes the initiative of Mr. Carter to visit at this time.

It is significant that Mr. Carter’s visit coincides with public expressions by potential witnesses in the Death Squad Inquiry that they have no intention of testifying. This reluctance, no doubt, results from the failure of the Commission to establish procedures that address the safety and security of witnesses. In fact, the requirement of the Commission that names and addresses must be provided with statements and the fact that these Statements are to be forwarded to Mr. Gajraj must have raised suspicion in the minds of potential witnesses.

Mr. Carter is also visiting at a time when the issues of poor governance, failure to implement agreements made under the Constructive Engagement, the abuse of the Parliament by the Government, rampant corruption and graf and links by the state to organized crime continue to be sore issues. The Government’s intransigence in relation to the positive resolution of these issues has forced the PNCR to continue its principled and justified policy of selective participation in the National Assembly.

The PNCR looks forward to the resolution of these matters so that normalcy may return to the National Assembly and stakeholders could commence discussions on the issues of Shared and Inclusive Governance. The PNCR stands ready to be part of any national dialogue that is aimed at creating a system of Governance that ensures all sections of the society, regardless of the party in office, feel that they have a stake.

GECOM

Due to the highly-sensitive responsibilities for which GECOM has charge under our constitution, it is imperative that it does all in its power to win and retain public confidence, and the confidence of the country’s political stakeholders, in its operations. To this end, GECOM must strive to keep all concerned continually informed and updated on the state of its general preparations as well as on any steps it may be taking to resolve the specific legitimate concerns of stakeholders.

Against this background, the PNCR is disquieted that GECOM has not recently been as forthcoming with information in relation to several aspects of its work. These include:

1. the progress made in implementing the measures proposed by various experts on tightening the physical and technical security systems of its IT operations;

2. its proposed approach to activate and utilize its database, given the known concerns of various stakeholders;

3. its state of administrative, technical and financial readiness to execute the continuous registration process;

4. its readiness to entertain the concerns of the party with respect to recommendations contained in the Mike James report on close-of-poll operations;


5. how it intends to safeguard its constitutionally-guaranteed independence in light of on-going attempts by the PPP/C government to reduce it to the level of a line ministry and thereby control its budget.


These matters go to the core of GECOM’s ability to deliver timely and acceptable local and national elections. Of course, the final arbiters of GECOM’S performance remain the ordinary Guyanese people. The commission should not therefore be hesitant, selective or inconsistent in its interaction with the public and with political stakeholders on vital issues.

The PNCR intends to write the commission shortly elaborating on these concerns. We also intend to seek an audience with the commissioners at which time we intend to seek satisfactory answers, affirm our positions, and offer our own proposals for resolving some of these matters. As always, the Party stands ready to cooperate with GECOM in its efforts to fulfill its mission in a manner that Guyanese can unquestionably accept and applaud.

LOCAL GOVERNMENT

In the face of Luncheon’s recent announcement that: local government elections will not be held this year, GINA entered the fray to propagandize that “Government has been working for the last few years to accelerate the process for holding Local Government elections”.

The reality is that subsequent to the amendment of the Constitution in 2000, to provide for a new local government electoral system, among other Local Government reforms, the Government was dilatory in its duty and did nothing to implement the constitutional provisions on Local Government reform.

It took the Dialogue process and concrete proposals from the late Mr. Hoyte for the implementation of the Reform to have been initiated. The Government, in the normal course of things, should have done this. Not so with the PPP/C. They had to be prodded and aided by the PNCR for the implementation to be undertaken. Even after the implementation was initiated further delays were occasioned by the PPP/C antics. For example, it took the PPP/C eighteen months to respond to proposals on the new electoral system for Local Government. That certainly could not be termed acceleration, as GINA would want one to believe.

It is disrespect and an insult to the Guyanese people for their own taxes to be used to misinform and blindfold them.

The PNCR remains committed to early Local Government elections and the implementation of all of the provisions of the Constitution on Local Government reform


People’s National Congress Reform
Congress Place, Sophia,
Georgetown, Guyana.
Thursday, August 5, 2004