PRESS STATEMENT By The People’s National Congress Reform To The Press Conference, Thursday, April 21, 2005 Hall of Heroes, Congress Place, Sophia




SUMMARY:
 The People’s National Congress Reform greets our Muslim Brothers and Sisters in Guyana and throughout the world on the occasion of Youman Nabi, the Birth Anniversary of the Holy Prophet Muhammad.

 Ronald Gajraj’s resumption of duties and the arrogance displayed by both President Jagdeo and Gajraj have serious implications for national development, the morale of the Police Force, the security situation and Guyana’s international relations

 The PNCR calls upon the Office of the President to desist from its unconstitutional actions and urges the Auditor General to assert his Constitutional authority.

 The PNCR also wishes to reiterate that it responded to GECOM`s requests on all issues in a timely manner and is still to benefit from responses from GECOM. Notwithstanding correspondence and meetings aimed at soliciting responses, GECOM has failed to honour its own deadlines with regard to the making and communication of its decisions.

 The PNCR will be investigating these claims of discriminatory treatment at the Office of the President and expose them to the Nation.

THE PNCR EXTENDS YOUMAN NABI GREETINGS TO ALL GUYANESE

The People’s National Congress Reform greets our Muslim Brothers and Sisters in Guyana and throughout the world on the occasion of Youman Nabi, which will be observed in Guyana tomorrow Friday April 22, 2005. The Birth Anniversary of the Holy Prophet Muhammad is a significant occasion for the millions who embrace the Muslim faith all over the world and it is one of those days which was made a national holiday by the PNC Government several years ago. In extending greetings on this occasion, the PNCR hopes that the message of peace from the Holy Prophet will pervade the entire society and that all Guyanese would pledge to build a nation on the pillars of equality of opportunity and mutual respect as we strive to forge a common destiny for the people of our dear land.

IMPLICATIONS OF GAJRAJ’S RESUMPTION OF DUTIES

Ronald Gajraj’s resumption of duties as Minister of Home Affairs and the arrogance displayed by both President Jagdeo and Gajraj since the latter resumed duties have serious implications for national development, the morale of the Police Force, the security situation and Guyana’s international relations. It is obvious, however, from the response of the Jagdeo Administration, to the condemnation by the majority of decent-minded citizens and their organizations and also by the International Community, that the PPP/C has placed its party’s interest before the national interest.

The State media continues to use the funds of taxpayers to mislead the public on the facts revealed in the Gajraj Inquiry Report but the people of Guyana have not been deceived. Among the findings of the Presidential Commission of Inquiry stated on page 15 of the Report was,

“3.5 The special relationship which developed between Minister Gajraj and Axel Williams was very unhealthy for the Minister since it became difficult for anyone, apprised of the fact that Axel Williams was an operative of the Minister in the area of public safety and security to distinguish between acts done by Williams on his own behalf and those done by him as an operative agent of the Minister.”

Page 9 of Justice Massiah’s minority report states,
“By continuing the association with Axel Williams until the very end the Minister opened himself to the accusation, not unjustified, that he either gave tacit encouragement to whatever Williams did or was indifferent to his conduct no matter how tainted or felonious it may have been.
The Minister may have been well meaning but he ought to have left the impugned pursuit to others. At best he was injudicious. I intend no disparagement when I say that his conduct fell below the accepted standards of Ministerial propriety.”

The Commission also found (pg. 13 - 3.2 & 3.3 of the Report) that the exigencies of public safety and security at the time (i.e. during the height of the execution of dozens of Policemen and other citizens) DID NOT NESITATE OR JUSTIFY THE DECISION OF MR. GAJRAJ TO INVOLVE HIMSELF IN THE SPHERE OF INFORMATION-GATHERING. Yet, the Minister is on public record as saying that he would again go about gathering information as he did during 2002 – 2003. In other words he would again develop close relationship (s) with killers and persons of highly questionable characters and send them out at night to do whatever is necessary. The citizens of Guyana must be concerned about these developments especially since the Inquiry Report confirms that there were / are more than one death squad in existence. It must be remembered that President Jagdeo deliberately refused to permit any investigation into death squads by restricting the Terms of Reference of the Inquiry. The implications of Gajraj’s reinstatement and his arrogant statement are evident. Can we expect this Minister of Home Affairs to obey the law and follow accepted standards of Ministerial propriety and to what extent will our security environment be compromised? How safe will our citizens be in their homes?

The PNCR therefore repeats its call for the establishment of a properly constituted and well structured Commission of Inquiry with all the attendant powers necessary to fully investigate the existence of Death Squads, and the violence that engulfed our country from February, 2002, including violent crime and eruptions of communal violence in villages such as Buxton, Annandale and Enterprise.

The PNCR sees Mr. Gajraj’s resumption of active duties as having a negative effect on the morale of the Guyana Police Force. Indeed several members of the Force have expressed great disquiet over Mr. Gajraj’s return. During his testimony before the Commission of Inquiry (pg. 65 of the Report) Mr. Gajraj spoke of senior Police Officers who “ducked and hid” and ran for cover, while Axel Williams showed courage. So here is Mr. Gajraj castigating and condemning senior members of the Guyana Police Force over which he had ministerial authority and having castigated and condemned them lamenting that they should have been like Axel Williams, a man the Commission found to have been implicated in several unlawful killings. The Government could not therefore be serious about improving the quality and morale of the GPF.

We urge Commissioner Felix to resist any attempt by Mr. Gajraj to meddle in the day-to-day functions of the Guyana Police Force. Past Commissioner (ag) Mr. Floyd Mc Donald summed up the level of meddling by Mr. Gajraj in the Guyana Police Force when he, Mc Donald, described himself to the Commission as “a humble public servant” (pg. 27 of the Report). The PNCR urges Commissioner Felix to ensure that his Constitutional Office is never reduced to that of the office of a “humble public servant”.

It should be obvious to all that the decision to reinstate Gajraj will have adverse effects on Guyana’s foreign relations but the Government appears unconcerned. Several Governments have expressed concerns about the reinstatement of Gajraj. The United States (Tuesday 12th April, 2005), the 25 member European Union (Wednesday 13th April, 2005) and Canada (Thursday 14th April, 2005) respectively expressed deep concern, disappointment and disquiet at Mr. Gajraj’s reinstatement.

Coupled with these expressions were clear messages from these countries that Mr. Gajraj’s reinstatement may well lead to a reduction of assistance to the Government and People of Guyana in the areas of governance and law enforcement. Additionally, according to the Stabroek News of Wednesday 13th April, 2005, the growing consensus within the diplomatic community was that they were likely to take a position of not working directly with Mr. Gajraj or the Ministry of Home Affairs.

All citizens need to concern themselves with this real threat of action on the part of our main donors, and ask themselves what a reduction in the resources and training available to our law enforcement agencies will mean for the internal security of Guyana which at best can be described as precarious.
FUNCTIONING OF THE AUDITOR GENERAL:
There has been a very disturbing report in the press recently, stating that the Auditor General (ag) was operating in the Office of the President supervising, or assisting in, the preparation/ approval of cheques to effect payments in the so-called flood relief package or expenditure.
This, if true, is in flagrant violation of the Constitution which states in Article 223(2) that "The public accounts of Guyana...shall be audited and reported on by the Auditor General....."

All agencies, including the Office of the President, must conduct their financial affairs in accordance with the relevant financial regulations and it is the function of the Auditor General to audit the accounts at the end of the financial year (generally).
Article 223(4) of the Constitution goes on to say that " In the exercise of his functions..... the Auditor General shall not be subject to the direction or control of any person or authority." It is the sacred duty of the Auditor General to uphold the Constitutional requirements of his office and it is the duty of the Government not to undermine the Constitution of Guyana.
In the circumstances the presence and or participation of the Auditor General in the way outlined in the report cannot validate an illegal act.
The PNCR calls upon the Office of the President to desist from its unconstitutional actions and urges the Auditor General to assert his Constitutional authority.
ELECTIONS UPDATE
As time slips by the nation anxiously awaits word from GECOM on the matters pertaining to the elections, including how it intends to compile the voters` list; how it proposes to introduce continuous registration; and its conclusions on a new biometric feature as an element of the mechanisms to ensure that their is no multiple registration. PNCR wishes to restate that none of the aforementioned issues are recent and that all of them have some origin in documentation and discussions, which originated in GECOM under its own initiative. The PNCR also wishes to reiterate that it responded to GECOM`s requests for its positions on all of those issues and others in a timely manner and is still to benefit from responses from GECOM. Notwithstanding correspondence and meetings aimed at soliciting responses, GECOM has failed to honour its own deadlines with regard to the making and communication of its decisions. The PNCR will therefore bear no responsibility for GECOM`s possible excuse that time will not permit the implementation of essential electoral conditions which GECOM itself articulated over the period since 2003.
The PNCR remains resolute that elections of an acceptable standard can only be achieved if the recommendations pertaining to the security features for the data base; continuous registration; the compilation of the voters list by a house-to house verification of the eligible voters; and the introduction of finger printing for crossing referencing and deletion of duplicate registrants are implemented. GECOM and those who are encouraging its slothfulness had better wake up to this reality to avoid any crisis. Investment in elections of an acceptable standard is the best platform on which the country’s democracy can be built and the environment created for economic growth and development. The PNCR is committed to this course and calls upon all patriotic Guyanese to join us in this cause.
Of equal concern to the PNCR is the PPP/C continued delaying and blame sharing tactics when it comes to electoral matters. At the level of the National Assembly they sought to derail the work of the Constitution Reform Committee by the establishment of a Select Committee to undertake the work that the CRC had identified as its priority. While the PPP/C attempt failed, the work of the CRC was successfully delayed. Three weeks have now passed since Mr. Ravindra Devi MP successfully piloted a motion adopting the report of the CRC, which included a provision that it proceeds with its work as quickly as possible. However, to date the PPP/C chaired CRC has not been convened. It is clear that the PPP/C is doing every thing possible to delay the preparation for elections while it engages in its propaganda to vilify and blame every one else and the PNCR in particular, for the uncertainty and potential confusion which they themselves predict.

FLOOD RELIEF WOES

The Government has begun on the East Coast to distribute the miserly ten thousand dollar ($10,000.00) cheques for flood compensation. However while this exercise has begun several residents of Georgetown who suffered from the disastrous effects of the flood have not yet been surveyed. In the meantime, there are reports of discriminatory treatment being meted out to victims of the flood at the Office of the President. For example, a large section of Field D Sophia was overlooked during the assessment. The residents were later told to visit the Office of the president to have their information recorded. However, several persons were turned away when they visited the Office of the President. Residents of South Georgetown and South Ruimveldt were also turned away from the Office of the President and advised that the assessors will visit their areas at a later date. However, residents are aware that the names of some persons from those areas were recorded when they visited Office of the President and they are now concerned about this apparent discriminatory treatment. The PNCR will be investigating these claims of discriminatory treatment at the Office of the President and expose them to the Nation.

People’s National Congress Reform
Congress Place, Sophia,
Georgetown, Guyana.
Thursday, April 21, 2005