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




SUMMARY:
• The PNCR congratulates the Hon. Justice Desiree Bernard on receiving the Triennial CARICOM Woman’s Award 2005;
• The People’s National Congress Reform lauds the initiative of Caricom Heads of Government to meet with Opposition Leaders of the Region;
• The PNCR has been consistent in its commitment to Caribbean integration and supports both the CCJ and the CSME;
• The delay in meaningful consultation on the appointment of Chancellor of the Judiciary and an acting Chief Justice is unsatisfactory and it appears that the Government is on a course of deception;
• Recent announcement of proposed Appointment of Gajraj to India is an embarrassment to the people of Guyana and an insult to the Government and People of India;
• The PNCR is concerned over this latest, sinister move by the Government to confuse the Nation and railroad the Elections process by rushing legislation for continuous registration through Parliament without settling essential issues such as Voter List verification as a prerequisite to the commencement of any registration;
• Party Leader and Chairman to address First North American Regional Conference scheduled for 8th to 10th July in New York;
• The People’s National Congress Reform has learnt with horror of the terrible attack on the people of London.

PNCR CONGRATULATES MADAM JUSTICE DESIREE BERNARD ON HER CARICOM AWARD.
The People's National Congress Reform extends heartiest congratulations to the Honourable Mme Justice Desiree Bernard who became the third outstanding Guyanese recipient of the Eighth CARICOM Triennial Women’s Award.
The PNCR feels proud that she has been singled out for her outstanding contribution to the development of law in Guyana and the Region, and more particularly for her leading role in advocating for women’s development
Madam Bernard has had many firsts during her career so far including, first female Judge, first female Chief Justice, first female Chancellor of the Judiciary and now first female Judge of the Caribbean Court of Justice, thereby crowning an illustrious legal career.
The conferring of the award, the Eighth CARICOM Triennial Women’s Award, at the opening of the Twenty Sixth Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) was the latest recognition of her sterling contribution.
The PNCR wishes her well in the future.

PNCR LAUDS INITIATIVE OF MEETING WITH LEADERS OF OPPOSITION OF CARICOM

The initiation of dialogue between Heads of Government and Leaders of Opposition of the Region is a reflection of the maturity and forward thinking of the Caribbean Community and recognition that the challenges facing the Member States individually and collectively require new modes of governance and government. The PNCR, therefore, wishes to congratulate the Heads of Government who have recognized, that in the new dispensation, Opposition Parties have a significant role.

The idea of such a meeting has been the subject of several earlier discussions and comment by CARICOM Heads such as Honourable Baldwin Spencer, PJ Patterson and Kenny Anthony and it is noteworthy that these Leaders saw the need to commence this process prior to their Summit, which was held in St. Lucia over this past weekend. Major issues on the Agenda were the Establishment of the CSME, the CCJ and Discussion on the way forward for dialogue between Heads of Government and Opposition Leaders. Mr. Robert Corbin, Leader of Guyana’s Parliamentary Opposition, was identified to make the Presentation on the way forward.

In his presentation, Mr. Corbin stated that although global events have compelled changes in governance, at the global as well as at the regional level, the Caribbean Community faces tough socio-economic difficulties, which can only be solved by deepening the process of democracy, intensifying the dialogue between Governments and Opposition, wider consultations with all stake holders and civil society and the implementation of systems of governance that can release the energies of the people of our respective nations to support national and regional development. He emphasized that the way forward must also include a reaffirmation of the essential roles of both Government and Opposition; a recognition that the challenges of the Region are as much the responsibility of the Opposition and Civil Society as they are of Governments; a review of mechanisms required to satisfy the objective of greater involvement, including the manner in which the dialogue process could be enhanced; and the use of up-to-date technology as an effective tool of communication and consultation.

The lively discussion, which followed the presentation, resulted in the decision being taken to appoint a six-member committee to discuss the manner in which the proposals could be advanced. The Leaders of the Opposition identified Opposition Leaders of Guyana, Jamaica and Dominica to pursue the matters raised and it was agreed that the CARICOM Heads would name three Prime Ministers, including Prime Minister Anthony, to be members of this committee.

It is unfortunate, however, that even before leaving Guyana to attend this meeting, President Jagdeo, in his usual style, could not resist the urge to gain cheap political mileage by misinforming the Nation that the PNCR Leader was part of his delegation to the CARICOM Summit. The decision was made by all CARICOM Heads to have consultations with Opposition Leaders prior to the commencement of the 26th Summit and it was agreed that the various Governments would finance the costs of participation of Opposition Leaders from their respective countries. The invitation to the meeting was issued by the Secretary-General of the Caribbean Community.

PNCR COMMITTED TO CARIBBEAN INTEGRATION: SUPPORTS CCJ AND CSME

The PNCR has been involved in helping to build the Regional Integration Movement for more than forty years. It is to be recalled that the Party supported the first attempt at a Federation and subsequently played an important role in the formation of the Caribbean Free Trade Area (CARIFTA) in 1968 and the establishment of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) in 1973. In addition the Party has been associated with important ideas, such as food security and the need for annual summits, in the building of the integration process.

There has never been any ambiguity in the PNCR’s vision for Caribbean integration and unity. We have consistently held the view and expressed the belief that our destiny lies in working together, ideally in a political union. This view informed the actions of the Founder leader of our Party and one of the founding members of the integration movement and late President of Guyana, Mr. L.F.S. Burnham, when he and the other founding fathers signed the Grenada Declaration, the Treaty of Chaguaramas and all subsequent Agreements until his demise in 1985. This vision has consistently guided the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) in its approach to CARICOM affairs, whether in or out of Government, and is evidenced by the position of Mr. Burnham’s successors. This is why we had no difficulty in giving our full support to the CCJ, the CSME and other CARICOM initiatives.

The major concern, however, is how best to achieve that vision with the people of the Region on board/aboard the integration vessel. It is in this context that national consensus is essential for progress.

The PNCR believes that the people of all member states will have to accept the challenges as well as the benefits of the CSME, so that the Community as a whole can benefit from its implementation. However, the CSME will have a greater chance to realise its objectives if the citizens of the Region are fully seized with its significance as well as its consequences.

THE DELIBERATE DELAY IN MEANINGFUL CONSULTATION ON APPOINTMENT OF CHANCELLOR AND CHIEF JUSTICE IS UNACCEPTABLE

President Jagdeo and the PPP/C have embarked on yet another course of deception in connection with the appointments of the Chancellor of the Judiciary and Chief Justice. The President, at every opportunity, boasts about all the great Constitutional Reforms that Guyana has benefited from and erroneously seeks to attribute sole credit to the PPP/C for these reforms. Yet, he continuously resists every effort to give efficacy to the new provisions of the Constitution. His failure to consult on the appointment of the Integrity Commission has been well publicized and is now the subject of a court action by the Leader of the Opposition. His most recent foray is the attempt to mislead the Nation into believing that serious consultations have been held in relation to the appointment of the Chancellor of the Judiciary.

The facts are that the Leader of the Opposition was invited to commence consultation on this matter and the initial consultation took place on April 20, 2005. At that meeting it was agreed between the Leader of the Opposition and the President that consultations would have continued during the following week. Despite public reference to the delay the Leader of the Opposition has to date, some two months after, received no invitation from the President to conclude those consultations. Because these consultations were incomplete the Leader of the Opposition resisted responding to misinformation concerning this matter in the media, including the appointment of an Acting Chancellor and the failure to appoint an acting Chief Justice on which there was no consultation. More recently, however, a PPP/C Member of Parliament has made representation to a Parliamentary sub committee suggesting that the consultations between the President and the Leader of the Opposition on this matter had been concluded and that because of difficulties in arriving at agreement there should be an attempt to change the constitution. It does appear that President Jagdeo is again planning to avoid the Constitution as he did when he appointed the Integrity Commission.
APPOINTMENT OF GAJRAJ AN EMBARRASSMENT TO GUYANA

The recent announcement of the proposed appointment of Ronald Gajraj as Ambassador to India is an embarrassment to the people of Guyana and an insult to the Government and people of India.

One would have thought that any decent Government, faced with the official report of its recent Inquiry into the Minister’s involvement in Death Squads, would have taken heed and avoided placing this tainted official into any public office at this time. But to place him as Guyana’s Representative to a foreign country is an indication of the scant regard that the PPP Government has for the people of this Nation and the Government and people of India. The PNCR calls on President Jagdeo to consider the serious implications of this decision.

PREPARATIONS FOR THE 2006 GENERAL AND REGIONAL ELECTIONS

The PNCR is concerned over this latest, sinister move by the Government to confuse the Nation and railroad the Elections process by rushing legislation for continuous registration through Parliament without settling essential issues such as Voter List verification as a prerequisite to the commencement of any registration

Two weeks ago the PNCR alerted the nation of an unfolding PPP/C plot with regards to preparations for the 2006 General and Regional Elections. More evidence has now been seen by the PNCR. It is now well known that the intention of the PPP/C is to have Continuous Registration undertaken without the conduct of the required house-to-house verification of the identity and residence of Electors now included on the 2001 Official List of Electors (OLE). Yesterday, July 6, 2005, PNCR General Secretary, Mr. Oscar Clarke, received a letter, dated July 1, 2005, from Dr Luncheon, indicating Cabinet’s readiness to hastily push a Bill through the National Assembly to facilitate Continuous Registration, though the GECOM Commissioners have not yet completed their examination and approval of the provisions of this Bill and certainly had not done so by July 1. The PNCR has been reliably informed that GECOM Commissioners continued consideration of the contents of the Bill on Tuesday July 5 and would be submitting their required amendments of this Bill to the chief Parliamentary Counsel. It is, therefore, quite surprising that Dr Luncheon could have a letter dated Tuesday July 1, referring to a Bill that was purportedly discussed by the Elections Commission. The PNC/R regards it as quite reckless on the part of the PPP/C administration to attempt to pass legislation that, on the face of it, pre-empts a final decision on this matter by GECOM. The parliamentary parties have today written to the Chairman of GECOM seeking his assurance that the matters of verification of the OLE and the application of fingerprint biometrics are still before the Commission and that the Bill will not terminate those discussions or predetermine their outcome. While the parliamentary opposition parties welcome the thrust of GECOM to pass legislation expeditiously to ensure the process of continuous registration, the parties have indicated to the Chairman of GECOM that their support for the Bill is contingent on his urgent and positive response to the matters raised.

PARTY LEADER AND CHAIRMAN FOR NORTH AMERICAN CONFERENCE

PNCR support Groups in North America will converge in New York over this coming weekend at the first North American Regional Conference. Delegates from Groups in Canada, Washington D.C., Atlanta, New Jersey, Florida and New York will meet to discuss issues affecting Guyana and the means by which they can increase their support to the PNCR in Guyana. The Leader and Chairman of the Party will be addressing the Conference, while other Executives of the Party, including Mr. Max Hanoman, Ms. Volda Lawrence and Mr. Jerome Khan will also be in attendance.

TERRIBLE ATTACKS ON THE PEOPLE OF LONDON

The People’s National Congress Reform has learnt with horror of the terrible attack on the people of London and the associated loss of life and injuries suffered by so many.

This act coming, so to speak, on the heels of the good news that the City won the bid for hosting of the 2012 Olympiad is especially grievous and heart breaking.

We would like to express our heartfelt sympathy to the government and people of Great Britain on this tragic incident and as we send our condolences and prayers we hope that at this time they can be comforted by the fact that most of the world grieves with them.

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