PRESS STATEMENT By People’s National Congress Reform Thursday, April 6, 2006 Hall of Heroes Congress Place, Sophia.




SUMMARY:
• The PNCR views this apparent lack of urgency in the response of the signatories to the MOU as bordering on insensitivity to the interests of all other stakeholders and the people of Guyana;
• The PNCR calls on all law abiding Guyanese to continue to support both the Guyana Police Force and the Guyana Defence Force in all their lawful activities;
• That wanted criminal suspects are mounting a public relations campaign to justify their actions is in itself a development of dire implications for our fragile society;
• An open invitation is extended to all former and present members of the YSM/GYSM to attend and participate in the two weeks of activity;
• The PNCR continues its Outreach Programme.

ELECTIONS UPDATE

The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), signed by the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), the Donor Community and the Government of Guyana (GOG) on the July 14, 2005 and subsequently laid in the National Assembly, states, on pages 6and 7, under the heading Monitoring Arrangements, that:

“The Joint International Technical Assessor (s), may at any time, inform the Guyana Elections Commission, the Government of Guyana, the National Assembly of Guyana and the undersigned donors, through the submission of a written assessment, of any benchmark that has not been met to a sufficient level of technical quality or on time.

In the event that The Joint International Technical Assessor (s) advises that the elections are likely to be held in a manner that is not free and fair, and therefore not in keeping with agreed international standards, or that the agreed elections timetable is likely to be revised for reasons that are not in keeping with the Constitution of Guyana, the signatories to this agreement will meet without delay to decide how this impacts upon agreements in this Memorandum of Understanding, and any changes that might be necessary.”

It should be noted that Mr. Steven Beale, one of The Joint International Technical Assessors, in his last Assessment (Number 5), dated March 31, 2006, indicated that there are many operational delays that may impact on the delivering of General and Regional Elections prior to the Constitutional deadline of 4th August 2006. Mr. Beale further stated that stakeholders must be prepared for the possibility of elections beyond the Constitutional deadline. This report was submitted to all the signatories of the MOU.

What is, therefore, alarming is that as far as we are aware, the signatories to the MOU have failed to meet without delay, as stipulated in their own Memorandum of Understanding. They must all now recognise that the Elections cannot be held before the constitutionally due deadline.

The People’s National Congress Reform views this apparent lack of urgency in the response of the signatories to the MOU as bordering on insensitivity to the interests of all other stakeholders and the people of Guyana.

The People’s National Congress Reform has received information which indicates that the Elections Commission is in a state of confusion. We have also been informed that both of the Joint International Technical Assessors, Mr. Steven Beale and Mr. Afari Gyan, have, at this critical juncture, departed for their home countries, Australia and Ghana, respectively. The People’s National Congress Reform views their hurried departure from GECOM as a matter for concern, since their continued presence would have been valuable for bringing to bear their expertise to advise and assist their principals, the Donor Community and GECOM.

For reasons which cannot be immediately discerned, there is a deafening silence from the Donor Community. We believe that part of the explanation for this silence is as a result of their embarrassment for allowing themselves to be deceived by the Chairman of GECOM, Dr. Steve Surujbally, and their failure to respect and treat seriously the many concerns of other major stakeholders in the process.

The Chairman of GECOM, Dr. Steve Surujbally, was mysteriously incommunicado and has refused to inform stakeholders and the people of Guyana of the many difficulties the Commission faces in their preparations for Elections and the fact that the Elections cannot now be held before the constitutionally due date. Further, in the present critical circumstances facing GECOM, the Chairman, Dr. Steve Surujbally, has imperiously advised his Commissioners that he would be absenting himself from his post for many days and weeks in the months of April and May 2006.

The Continuous Registration exercise, that should have been concluded on March 31, 2006, is not yet completed and no one at GECOM has advised when this exercise will be completed. Presently, there are hundreds of persons who have registered and are yet to be verified by GECOM at their residence, and many thousands of Registrants whose registration information is yet to be processed and encoded. There are also no clear and definitive instructions to the staff, at the many Registration Centres, regarding how they should proceed with the distribution of ID Cards and other outstanding tasks.

The CEO and other senior management officers of the GECOM Secretariat are unclear about how to proceed with their many critical and other tasks. They are, therefore, awaiting instructions from the Chairman and this is not forthcoming. It is clear to the PNCR, other stakeholders and all other citizens that GECOM is presently on “Auto Pilot”; no one seems to be in charge.

The disposition of President Jagdeo and the PPP is to bully GECOM into holding an Election before August 4, 2006, even though the Commission and the JITA have acknowledged that they are not yet ready to hold these Elections before the Constitutional deadline of August 4, 2006.

The Joint Parliamentary Opposition Parties (JPOP) wrote the Chairman of GECOM, Dr. Steve Surujbally, on April 1, 2006, seeking clarification on the issue of the date for the Elections and other pertinent issues that impact on the holding of a free, fair and transparent election. The Chairman is yet to respond.

The People’s National Congress Reform, in the interest of the nation and the people of Guyana, had stated previously that it is ready and prepared to sit with all stakeholders to find a way out of the morass into which Dr. Steve Surujbally has plunged the nation headlong. It is our hope that all other stakeholders are prepared to do the same without undue delay.

WHITHER OUR SECURITY

It is now a notorious fact that, on Wednesday, March 29, 2006 - the same day that the Joint Parliamentary Opposition hosted its public forum under the theme “Unity for Security-Stand Up Against Crime and Violence” - the Guyana Police Force issued wanted bulletins for four men, namely Shaheed Khan also known as Roger Khan, Gerald Pereira, Paul Rodrigues and Ricardo Rodrigues. What is not as well known is the fact that these four men are all wanted for questioning in connection with investigations into the discovery of guns, ammunition, drugs and other illegal items in houses owned or occupied by them. The Police investigations may lead to serious criminal charges being preferred against some or all of these men.

According to our legal advisors, the issuing of the Wanted Bulletins is lawful. However, what has unfolded since is a legal challenge that the issuing of the four Wanted Bulletins is unlawful. This has opened an amazing and far reaching window in the annals of our legal history. It also represents the most brazen and presumptuous attempts by criminal elements to thwart and obstruct the Guyana Police Force and the Guyana Defence Force in their efforts to carry out their constitutional mandates.

In our Press Statement of Tuesday, March 21, 2006 we informed the Guyanese people that our intelligence had revealed that the distribution and airing of the now infamous tape was nothing more than a nefarious plot, by certain elements of the PPP/C and associated criminal interests, to undermine the Guyana Police Force and its Commissioner, at a time when the GPF had finally begun to take positive action against organized crime. We all know that this ploy did not work. Now comes Act 2 of the plot in the form of television and one page newspapers advertisements containing cries of purity, veiled threats and suggestions that the Commissioner of Police is carrying out a personal vendetta against certain persons.

Even more bizarre than the tape and the advertisements is the deafening silence by the Jagdeo Government. It has taken President Jagdeo 15 days, after the airing of the tape (20th March to 3rd April, 2006) to comment on this unprecedented act. It is nothing short of surreal that the President’s comment included the following, “I have not asked the Commissioner to resign at this point of time”. We await President Jagdeo’s comment on the advertisements placed in the media by Mr Roger Khan.

The PNCR calls on all law abiding Guyanese to continue to support both the Guyana Police Force and the Guyana Defence Force in all of their lawful activities. The PNCR has never been slow to criticize the Guyana Police Force or the Guyana Defence Force whenever they step outside of their constitutional and lawful mandate. We, however, wish to state that we support them fully in their present efforts to bring crime under control and we urge them to let no one or no grouping divert them from their tasks. We call on the Jagdeo Government to join the PNCR and all other law abiding citizens and stand behind the Commissioner of Police and the Chief of Staff.

Let us together send this strong, united and unequivocal message to the criminal elements in Guyana.

Thus Far and No Further!

MEDIA RESPONSIBILITY
The recent publication in several newspapers of a personal ad signed by Mr. Shaheed Roger Khan, who is presently wanted by the Guyana Police Force for questioning in connection with suspected illegal acts, highlights a disturbing and dangerous development in editorial policy in the national media. In the current campaign by the police and army to remove the scourge of drug-trafficking and other criminal enterprises in Guyana, some media houses (both print and TV) have clearly exercised poor judgment in what they publish or, far worse, have decided to throw their lot in with those whom the police and the US State Department deem as criminal suspects.

That wanted criminal suspects are mounting a public relations campaign to justify their actions is in itself a development of dire implications for our fragile society. That several media houses are allowing themselves to be used for, or are actively facilitating, this campaign takes this matter to a higher level of moral and social degeneracy. Specifically, some media houses have been guilty of publicizing private telephone conversations; publishing personal ads by wanted suspects; providing space for attacks on the joint services; and peddling biased headlines and captions. So, for example, on page 3 of the Kaieteur News, of Wednesday, April 52006, the caption reads “Judge orders GDF to explain illegal joint operations”. Who determined that these raids were “illegal”? The Kaieteur News should move quickly to dispel the perception, in the minds of the public, that this caption and its other recent editorial misadventures are not examples of a serious loss of decency at the newspaper.

The Kaieteur News is, of course, not the only culpable media house in this recent plunge into social decadence. We need to mention here also NTN Television, where they seem to believe that the airing of secretly-taped telephone conversations is the best use they can make of the publicly-owned broadcast frequency allocated to them. We must commend those news houses that have exercised better judgment in these challenging times.

Where is the Advisory Committee on Broadcasting in all this? We raise this question, not because we are convinced that they are morally equipped to address this issue. They are not. However, we raise the question to expose the political prejudice, ambivalence and hypocrisy in their operations. While they regularly target stations deemed to be anti-PPP, they display the guts of a spineless stooge when it comes to the intransigencies of the State-owned media and those private media outlets aligned to the PPP/C.

The PNCR condemns these recent developments in the media. In a society already battered by poverty, crime, and poor moral standards, to allow criminals and suspected criminals the media space to openly wage a PR campaign against the constitutionally mandated security forces and their officers is a further outrage the Guyanese people should not and must not tolerate.

For the Jagdeo Government’s part, it must answer the question for the benefit of the Guyanese people: whose side is it on?

YSM/ GYSM REUNION

Former members of the Young Socialist Movement (YSM) and members of the Guyana Youth and Student Movement (GYSM) will be hosting a reunion, from the 14th to 28th April, 2006, under the theme “THE PAST MEETS THE PRESENT FOR THE FUTURE.”

This activity is the first of its kind in the history of the organization and is expected to be a truly memorable one. This will be a truly historic occasion that is worthy of support.

The highlight of the reunion will be a Reunion Conference to be held on April 22, 2006 at Congress Place, Sophia.

An open invitation is extended to all former and present members of the YSM/GYSM to attend and participate in the two weeks of activity.

THE PNCR CONTINUING OUTREACH PROGRAMME

During the past week the PNCR continued its Outreach work in preparation for the upcoming Elections. Members of the Party Executive Committee and Members of Parliament spearheaded visits to Region # 1, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 10 and were engaged in community walkabouts and meetings aimed at ensuring that those potential electors who did not get registered during the last registration cycle are advised to do so during the upcoming claims and objections period. Opportunity was also taken to whip up support for verification of the Official List of Electors (OLE) by explaining to the potential voters the dangers which failure to verify the OLE poses for the holding of a free, fair and transparent electoral process.

The Party Chairman, Mr. Winston Murray, CCH, MP led the delegation which included Dr. George Norton, MP, the Party’s Director for Hinterland Affairs, to the Mabaruma Sub-Region of Region #1 Barima /Waina from March 31 to April 3, 2006.

Visits were made to Smiths Creek – North and South, Barima end, Morawana, Sacred Heart, Hotoqui, Hobodeia, Whitewater, Barabena, Aruka, Ankamai, Saint Dominic and Mabaruma Township. The visiting team was warmly welcomed by the residents throughout these farming communities which they claimed have been subjected to Government neglect resulting in severe hardship. Especially highlighted were:

(i) perennial flooding at Morawana;
(ii) Government’s failure to construct a new school building at Hotoqui which was promised since 2003;
(iii) Rampant discrimination in the distribution of flood relief by the authorities, and;
(iv) The ill-advised removal of the high-span bridge over the creek which facilitated the use of the waterway by farmers from Barabena to transport their produce to Kumaka.

Before leaving the Region the PNCR team paid a visit to the Office of the Regional Chairman where the many concerns of the residents and problems identified were brought to the attention of the Regional Chairman, Mr. Norman Whittaker.


People's National Congress Reform
Congress Place, Sophia,
Georgetown, Guyana.
Thursday, April 6, 2006