PRESS STATEMENT By The People’s National Congress Reform To The Press Conference, Thursday, April 7, 2005 Hall of Heroes, Congress Place, Sophia




SUMMARY:

 The PNCR reiterates its condolences on the passing of this great soul and reassures members of the Roman Catholic communion in Guyana that we share their grief at this time.

 The PNCR has not yet received a copy of the Report on the Gajraj Commission of Inquiry and calls on Jagdeo to publicise the entire Report including the Minority Report by Justice Massiah so that the public can draw their own conclusions.

 The PNCR has noted with amazement the dismissal of the City Engineer by the Minister and can only conclude that the plan to control Georgetown has begun to unfold.

 The recent unpresidential outburst by Jagdeo on the State Media about the PNCR's recent Leadership Retreat is a sure sign that Jagdeo is worried about his tenure in Office and attempting to misinform the people of Guyana about plans of the Party.

THE PNCR EXTENDS CONDOLENCES ON THE DEATH OF POPE JOHN PAUL II

On Sunday April 2nd, last the Vatican announced the sad news of the death of His Holiness the Pope, John Paul II and in a Press Release issued on Tuesday, April 5, 2005, the People’s National Congress Reform joined with members of the Roman Catholic Communion as well as the entire international community, in mourning the passing of this illustrious World Leader who played such a dominant role in international affairs for close to a quarter century.

The PNCR statement noted that Pope John Paul II brought his considerable stature and talents to the issues affecting world peace and development, that he led the church by thought, word and deed and was a tireless advocate for democracy, human rights, the plight of the poor, the marginalized and the victims of the social and political ills which plague our world; that he also used the considerable moral authority of his office to the cause of justice and morality. As a result, his influence went beyond the bounds of church, religion and faith but pervaded the major discourses and debates of our time.

The PNCR reiterates its condolences on the passing of this great soul and reassures members of the Roman Catholic communion in Guyana that we share their grief at this time.

THE PARLIAMENTARY OPPOSITION PARTIES HAD REJECTED THE GAJRAJ COMMISSION OF INQUIRY AND STATED CLEARLY THAT THEY WOULD NOT ACCEPT ITS REPORT AND RECOMMENDATIONS

The Report on the Gajraj Commission of Inquiry has been presented to President Jagdeo but it is anticipated that no action will be taken, as is the case with any report to President Jagdeo. This was the case with many other previous reports such as the Stone Scam Report, the Conservancy Dam Reports, the Remigrant Duty Free Car Scam Report and the more recent Sir Michael Davies’ report. In fact the State Media has already commenced its campaign to propagandise the report as exonerating Gajraj even before the release of the document as promised by the President. The PNCR has not yet received a copy of this report and calls on Jagdeo to publicise the entire Report including the Minority Report by Justice Massiah so that the public can draw their own conclusions.

It will be recalled that in a Public Statement on May 15, 2004, the Parliamentary Opposition Parties totally rejected the proposed Commission of Inquiry that was established by President Jagdeo. The Opposition Parties at their meeting on Saturday 15th of May discussed the President’s announcement and unanimously agreed that the Commission of Inquiry did not meet the minimum standards which they had outlined and made clear to the Government, to the citizens of Guyana and the international community.

Among the minimum requirements, clearly spelt out in our letter of May 6, 2004 to the UN Secretary General, were that the inquiry should be accompanied by a credible and secure witness protection program; allow a role for Caricom and other international organizations; and have the authority and resources to take evidence both inside and outside of Guyana.

It is therefore not surprising that the only witnesses who appeared before the Commission had to be subpoenaed. The lack of credible evidence should not therefore be a surprise since the PNCR had predicted that this was the real objective of President Jagdeo when he limited the Terms of Reference of the Commission of Inquiry.

In the joint Press Statement the Opposition Parties stated that the unilateral establishment of a Presidential Commission of Inquiry was a travesty because,

• “The Terms of Reference are derisory, totally unacceptable and provocative. They are woefully inadequate, narrow and not intended to ensure that the truth will be unearthed and the guilty bought to justice.
• The Terms or Reference is restricted to the culpability of the Minister and does not include the issues which contributed to the violence which engulfed the society, since 2002, including violent crime and manifestations of insecurity and communal violence in communities such as Buxton, Annandale, Enterprise and others.
• The President has not consulted the Parliamentary Opposition Parties or any of the Social Partners on the Terms of Reference for the Commission of Inquiry or its composition.
• The President has pronounced on the innocence of Minister Gajraj thereby exercising undue influence over his appointees.”

As a consequence the Parliamentary Opposition Parties rejected the Presidential Commission of Inquiry that was announced and in the joint statement clearly stated that,

“We do not accept its Terms of Reference, we will not cooperate with its functioning and we will not accept its findings and / or recommendations. We will only accept a Commission which meets the minimum internationally accepted standards for an Independent and impartial Commission of Inquiry and which is appointed on the basis of proper consultation with the Opposition political parties and other stakeholders.”

The position of the PNCR has therefore not changed and we will not accept the Report of the Commission of Inquiry as the final chapter on the specter of Death Squads in Guyana.

The existence of such squads represents a profound violation of and attack on the rule of law and the constitutional rights of citizens and poses a clear and present danger to the stability and existence of the State. After several months of agitation by the citizens of Guyana the President having been forced to take action, resorted to a façade that was programmed from the inception to avoid any investigation into death squads in Guyana. The PPP/C Administration and President Jagdeo remain answerable and accountable for the serious loss of life and bloodshed of many Guyanese.

The report itself however should still provide useful insights to the impropriety of the Minister of Home Affairs, the abuse of Ministerial authority and the linkage of the then Minister with persons identified by the Inquiry as associated with Death Squads in Guyana. The PNCR therefore waits to see what sanctions will be imposed by President Jagdeo on his Minister. What the Inquiry has confirmed is that Jagdeo and the PPP/C would stop at nothing to cover up corruption and illegal activity and the question which must now be asked is whether President Jagdeo was protecting himself as distinct from Gajraj in this recent farcical exercise.

JAGDEO BEGINS TO IMPLEMENT PLAN TO CONTROL GEORGETOWN BUT WILL NOT SUCCEED

Since the announcement by President Jagdeo that he had instructed his Minister of Local Government to hold consultations with the citizens of Georgetown to determine whether to install an Interim Management Committee (IMC) to replace the elected City Council, the Minister has been attempting damage control by attempting to clarify what the President meant and has admitted that an enquiry into the affairs of the Municipality must be conducted, as a basis for arriving at any decision to declare the Council to be in default, to dissolve the Council or suspend the Council for such time as he may think fit from the performance of such of its functions as may be specified.

The PNCR has noted with amazement the dismissal of the City Engineer by the Minister and can only conclude that the plan to control Georgetown has begun to unfold. We cannot but recall the criticism of the City Engineer by the President as well as by the said Minister both during and after the flood and conclude that his dismissal is directly referable to his performance or lack of it during the flood crisis. Whatever may be the reason for his dismissal it must be obvious that until the real causes of the flood are remedied, Georgetown will continue to experience flooding whenever it rains.

The President can continue to fool himself that the resources which are at the disposal of the Municipality at present can permit the Council to do a better job; however due to several factors including the refusal by government to pay its share of the taxes on time. To date the Government has paid no taxes for the year 2005. Instead, starting in Albouystown the President has begun to use State resources as a means to further undermine the work of the City Council in the hope that his plan will succeed, but again he is mistaken. The people of Georgetown are not as gullible as he believes.

The PNCR reiterates that the truth about the President’s attempt to impose an IMC on the people of Georgetown is that Jagdeo wants to exercise personal control over the several hundred of millions of dollars that the Central Government is now required to make available to the City to deal with post-flood infrastructure and other works. The PPP/C sees this as an opportunity to use these resources for political benefits and to serve pre-election points, given the amount of money which will inevitably have to be pumped into Georgetown by the Central Government if flooding is to be avoided during the anticipated May/June rainy season.

The PNCR will not sit idly by and have Jagdeo and his henchmen seen around Georgetown doling out the flood relief money while appearing to be the Saviour of residents of the City.

JAGDEO PANICS AND AGAIN MISUSES THE STATE MEDIA

The recent unpresidential outburst by Jagdeo on the State Media about the PNCR's recent Leadership Retreat is a sure sign that Jagdeo is worried about his tenure in Office and attempting to misinform the people of Guyana about plans of the Party. If Jagdeo was so interested in the plans of the PNCR the Party would have had no problems in inviting him to be present. He would surely have been enlightened about the true state of Guyana. The PNCR has no secrets as its stated intention of working with all Guyanese and their Organisations were stated since its last Biennial Congress and made public.

The truth is that Jagdeo who continues to boast of the sure victory of the PPP/C at the next General Elections is now worried that all is not well as he had misled himself to believe. The PNCR will however not be distracted from its programme and will continue to work with all for the development of Guyana.

This recent misuse of the State Media however is another indication that the issue of equitable access to the State media must now be frontally addressed.

The PNCR will seek equal time on the State media to adequately respond to Jagdeo's puerile outburst.


People’s National Congress Reform
Congress Place, Sophia,
Georgetown, Guyana.
Thursday, April 7, 2005