PRESS STATEMENT By People’s National Congress Reform Thursday, April 20, 2006 Hall of Heroes Congress Place, Sophia.




SUMMARY:
• The Leader, Central Executive and members of the People’s National Congress Reform offer our profound condolences on the death of Billy Pilgrim;
• The Leader of the Opposition Mr. Robert Corbin, MP met with President Jagdeo yesterday Wednesday 19 April 2006;
• The PNCR is committed to working with all stakeholders for the resolution of this potential constitutional crisis;
• Deception of GECOM Chairman jeopardises the holding of free and fair elections;
• YSM/GYSM REUNION.

TRIBUTE TO WILLIAM RICHARD ALEXANDER ‘BILLY’ PILGRIM

Mr Billy Pilgrim, broadcaster, teacher, pianist, composer arranger and cultural icon died on Monday, April 17, 2006 after a period of illness. Billy Pilgrim was one of a galaxy of talented and dedicated artists who put Guyana on the cultural map in the years following our independence. He was involved in the inaugural Carifesta in 1972, in the great Republic Anniversary musical shows such as “The Purchase” and “The Pride of Heroes”, as well as the composer of many of our famous national songs and the arranger of countless vocal and instrumental pieces.

Billy Pilgrim was a staunch and unconditional patriot. He loved Guyana and its people; refusing the rewards which his musical talent could have earned him in the developed countries. He loved music and was a sponsor and mentor to generations of musicians ranging from classical artistes to pan-men, calypsonians and masquerade bands.

Billy Pilgrim was also a dedicated and loyal supporter and friend of the Peoples National Congress Reform and believed that the PNCR vision for the cultural and educational advancement of our people was the way forward.

To his family and many close friends, the Leader, Central Executive and members of the People’s National Congress Reform offer our profound condolences and we pray that you will find solace in the belief that he “will rest, within his country’s breast where sweet flowers bloom.”

May he rest in peace!

MEETING BETWEEN PRESIDENT JAGDEO AND LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION

The Leader of the Opposition Mr. Robert Corbin, MP met with President Jagdeo yesterday Wednesday, April 19 2006 at the Presidential Complex. This was in response to an invitation by the President to discuss matters raised with him in a letter from the Opposition Leader dated 28 March 2006. At the meeting matters discussed included the constitutional implication arising from the formal notification from the Elections Commission that they would be unable to manage the elections before the constitutional due date of 4 August 2006. An agreed press statement on the aforesaid meeting will be issued later today.

Mr. Corbin was accompanied by Chairman of the PNCR, Mr. Winston Murray, CCH, M.P.

PNCR COMMITTED TO WORKING TOWARDS A RESOLUTION OF A POSSIBLE CONSTITUTIONAL CRISIS

On 13 April 2006 the chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), Dr. Steve Surujbally, informed President Bharrat Jagdeo that Regional and National Elections cannot be held before August 30, 2006. The PNCR, therefore, wishes to take this opportunity to state its position on this most significant development as follows:

1. The life of the present Parliament expires on 4 May 2006.
2. Elections are, therefore, due within three months of the dissolution of Parliament i.e. by 4 August 2006.
3. The constitution provides for the President and his Cabinet to remain in office until the election of a new President. However, this Constitutional provision is premised on the election of a new President within the constitutionally specified timeframe, that is, within three months after the dissolution of Parliament.
4. Consequently, unless otherwise specified by a constitutional amendment with the two-third majority vote in the National Assembly to extend the life of the Parliament, the President and his cabinet cannot constitutionally hold office after 4 August 2006.

The PNCR is committed to working with all stakeholders for the resolution of this potential constitutional crisis.

DECEPTION OF GECOM CHAIRMAN JEOPARDISES THE HOLDING OF FREE AND FAIR ELECTIONS

It should, by now, be evident to all, except those who are blinded by narrow politically partisan interests, that the Chairman of GECOM has been pursuing a dangerous programme of deception designed to frustrate the house-to-house verification of the 2001 OLE as required by the Joint Parliamentary Opposition Parties (JPOP).

The commencement of Continuous Registration was premised, by agreement with the Joint Parliamentary Opposition Parties, on the use of a verified 2001 OLE as a base for the creation of a new verified National Register of Registrants (NRR) or Central Register to which would be added the verified New Registrants from the Continuous Registration process. The Finger-print Cross referencing project, being executed by the Electoral Office of Jamaica, to identify multiple registrants, is the other process for the cleansing of the NRR. It is from this new verified and cleansed NRR that the Preliminary Voters List should be extracted.

GECOM, on the instructions of its Chairman, is now committed to by-passing the creation of the new NRR from which the PLE should legally be extracted and, instead, has merged the unverified 2001 OLE with the verified New Registrants and, without eliminating the multiple registrants (or duplicates for those registered more than once), has proceeded to print a Preliminary List of Electors (PLE). The Chairman confirmed this position at his press conference on Tuesday 18 April 2006.

It has turned out that, despite the documented commitments by GECOM, in addition to the legal authority, provided in Act No. 14 of 2005 National Registration (Amendment) Act 2005, to undertake the house-to-house verification of the 2001 OLE, it was never the intention of the GECOM Chairman that this would be done.

A necessary condition for the holding of free and fair elections in Guyana is the existence of a clean verified Voters List which has the confidence of all stakeholders. Therefore, the frustration of the verification of the 2001 OLE has installed a serious jeopardy for the holding of an Election which meets internationally accepted standards for being certified as free and fair.

Even without the allowance of time and resources to conduct the house-to-house verification of the 2001 OLE, the acts of commission and omission by the GECOM Chairman, which resulted in his letter, of 13 April 2006, to President Jagdeo, advising that GECOM would not be ready to hold an election before 30 August 2006, has now brought the country to the verges of a constitutional crisis. His attitude and behaviour has driven the three (3) Commissioners, nominated by the Opposition Parties, to take the drastic step of withdrawing from participation in the work of the Commission under his leadership.

What further damage can the nation expect or tolerate from this pathetic Chairman?

GYSM/ YSM REUNION

The Guyana Youth and Student Movement (GYSM) in collaboration with former members of the Young Socialist Movement and the GYSM has organized a reunion conference for April 22, 2006 from 10:00 Hrs at Congress Place Sophia. A number of former members from North America, Europe and the Caribbean have returned to Guyana to participate in this conference which is part of a series of activities planned for the two week reunion programme. Local former members along with current members of the GYSM will also be part of the conference.

Mr. Robert Corbin, M.P., Leader of the People’s National Congress Reform, will deliver the feature address at the conference. The programme also includes presentations by Mr. Winston Bentham, the first chairman of the YSM, on the origin of the organization and Ms. Chiyedza James, National Chairman of the GYSM, on the “GYSM: A Vision for the Future.”

The conference will also provide the opportunity for the former and present members to meet and interact and for former members to reflect and reminisce the nostalgic moments the experienced together as members of the organization.

Former and present membership of the YSM and GYSM is the only requirement for attendance at the conference. Formal invitations are not necessary.

On Wednesday April 26, 2006 there will be an evening of social interaction and reflection at Congress Place, Sophia.


People's National Congress Reform
Congress Place, Sophia,
Georgetown, Guyana.
Thursday, April 20, 2006