PRESS STATEMENT By People’s National Congress Reform Thursday, 22 June, 2006 Hall of Heroes Congress Place, Sophia.




SUMMARY:
• In the face of rising unemployment, despair and hopelessness it must be that the Jagdeo Government has a sinister strategy to nurture and encourage widespread drug work;
• What President Jagdeo needs to explain to the Guyanese people is: why he has not seen it fit to make any serious statement about the security implications of tapes purporting to be of conversations involving the Commissioner of Police, particularly, in view of the fact that it is accepted by all Guyanese that these tapes were done by Guyana’s underworld;
• The PNCR again calls on the PPP/C to explain its relationship with Roger Khan. The PNCR also calls on the PPP/C to unequivocally condemn crime. Further, the PNCR believes that, given the seriousness of the Roger Khan episode and the extent of the PPP/C involvement in promoting and supporting Khan’s activities, President Bharrat Jagdeo and his Government should have the decency to resign;
• GECOM generally ignored its own stipulation to investigate and required the objectors to produce evidence such as death and marriage certificates, which evidence the objectors are in do position to provide since the laws of Guyana do not provide for third parties to access such documents.

THE JAGDEO GOVERNMENT IS IN BED WITH CRIMINAL ELEMENTS

As early as January 2004, a small team of foreign security experts, after analyzing the Guyana situation, produced a Security Sector report on Guyana. Part of the report read,

“The US-sponsored ‘War on Drugs’ is having an effect in Latin America, and drug lords are forced to look for alternative bases of operation.”
“Guyana, with a relatively weak national security capability, is increasingly attractive as an alternative base. Elements of Guyana’s citizenry see the drug trade as a more stable livelihood than legal alternatives, and are willing supporters of drug lords’ encroachment.”
“Unless Guyana can defend itself against drug lords’ efforts to turn it into a new operations base, it will very probably succumb and become a “narco-state”.
“This would lead to violence as different drug lords vie for control, perhaps using a strategy of “divide and rule” to incite ethnic discord, corruption as drug lords use bribes to placate the political order, and international isolation as Guyana is marked as a pillar of the drug trade.”
“The legitimate economy would be displaced by drug money. Foreign investors turn away from increasing insecurity, corruption and illegitimacy.”
“With drug lords expanding an armed presence, and bribing officials with drug money, the national security capacity would erode, thereby attracting further interest from the drug trade, and further decline”.

Clearly these security analysts were right on the ball. It may now be timely for the Guyanese people to do their own analysis of recent events and ask themselves. “Why did government not respond to these threats?” Failure to carry out this simple mental exercise could result in an extension of the worse aspects of this “Spiral of Insecurity” as the report is titled.

The overriding question has to be - to what extent is the Jagdeo Government complicit in the ‘decline’ referred to in the report? The report also mentions ‘legal alternatives’ to drug work. If thousands of Guyanese are kept idle they can be neither consumers nor workers in the normal sense of the word. In time “marginalization” so lowers their self worth that some of them will do anything to earn money. Government, by skillfully removing these ‘legal alternatives’ or by systematically reducing them, has caused a criminal class of ‘willing supporters of drug lords’ encroachment’ to emerge. These criminals are ready and able to dedicate time, energy and resources to drug work. The PNCR is convinced that the Jagdeo Government has been complicit in creating this underworld.

It explains, for instance, why the economy has been allowed to implode and die; why the PPP/C Government is unwilling to welcome new foreign direct investment, to really encourage the local private sector or even implement the NDS. In the face of rising unemployment, despair and hopelessness it must be that the Jagdeo Government has a sinister strategy to nurture and encourage widespread drug work.

The ‘US Drug Strategy Report’ 2006 mentions Guyana’s large underground economy which it says may account for as much as 60% of GDP. The ‘World Bank’s Guyana Development Policy Review’ of June 2003 had estimated the underground economy as 40% of GDP. Based on these two well-researched reports, we must conclude that, in the three (3) years, 2003 to 2006, the underground or illegal economy grew by a staggering 20%.

The underground or illegal economy is populated with companies and individuals involved in not just drug trafficking but also smuggling, money laundering, back-tracking, child slavery and other aspects of organised crime. This sector of the economy sometimes called the ‘proceeds of crime’ sector, has grown exponentially since the PPP/C came to power in 1992.

We do not see this as accidental but as incontrovertible proof that the present Jagdeo Administration is involved with criminal elements and an active participant in the erosion of our national security capacity, as evidenced by their attempts to alienate the Commissioner of Police and to render him ineffective.

UNPRESIDENTIAL, INACCURATE AND BIASED STATEMENTS BY PRESIDENT JAGDEO CONTINUE

While addressing the attendees at the 29th annual wreath laying rally for the Enmore Martyrs, on Thursday, 15 June, 2006, President Jagdeo, in speaking of the Guyana Defence Board said “I see some ridiculous things that we don’t want the army to go after the drug dealers …. If I did not want that, the army would not have been on the streets because it was I, as Minister of Defence and the Chairman of the Defence Board, who put the army on the streets and I can take them off the streets tomorrow”. This arrogant statement may have passed merely as yet another childish uttering from President Jagdeo. The truth is that the GDF, to borrow President Jagdeo’s words “went into the streets” to seek to recover the 33 AK 47’s stolen from the GDF Headquarters and not to go after drug dealers. So, in addition to being childish and puerile, this statement is also a lie.

What President Jagdeo needs to explain to the Guyanese people is: why he has not seen it fit to make any serious statement about the security implications of tapes purporting to be of conversations involving the Commissioner of Police, particularly, in view of the fact that it is accepted by all Guyanese that these tapes were done by Guyana’s underworld. As one letter writer puts it “the eagerness to initiate action against the Commissioner of Police is not met with the concomitant eagerness to investigate a person who openly admitted that he was complicit in questionable practices with members of the GPF.”

At a press briefing, on Friday, 16 June, 2006, President Jagdeo once again put the proverbial foot in his mouth when he described as “ridiculous” the admission to bail of a person who had been sought by the Joint Services, in connection with the missing weapons, and called on the Judicial Service Commission to “look into this issue”. Guyanese will well recall the infamous Good Hope Trio – Shaheed ‘Roger’ Khan, Sean Belfield and Haroon Yahja – who were arrested in the Good Hope area, on the 4 December 2002, and charged with the unlawful possession of firearms and ammunitions, were subsequently admitted to bail and eventually acquitted. Why didn’t President Jagdeo raise his voice then? Indeed, had he given unequivocal instructions to the Joint Services, in December 2002, to go after the other guns that he must have known were at large, our crime situation may not have degenerated to this level.

In Guyana, all offences save and except murder, kidnapping and treason, are bailable. If President Jagdeo wants to take away the discretion of bail, in other offences, from the Judiciary, then his Government must pass the necessary legislation rather than criticize statutory and constitutional officers when it suits his narrow partisan purposes .In 1988, the PNC followed its conviction and, in relation to all narcotic related offences, the discretion of bail was removed from the Judiciary, save and except in special circumstances. The Guyanese people will never see decisive action, on the part of President Jagdeo, when such action is most needed. What we will continue to be subjected to, are more unpresidential, inaccurate and biased statements from him.

THE SURINAMESE APPREHENSION OF THE FUGITIVE ROGER KHAN

The recent capture of fugitive “crime boss”, Roger Khan, by the Surinamese Police is a significantly positive development for the local crime and security situation. Commissioner of Police, Mr. Winston Felix, and the Guyana Police Force must be commended for the role they played in ferreting out this drug kingpin from his lair and herding him into the clutches of the Surinamese Police.

The PNCR has noted, with concern, the statement by Suriname’s Justice Minister that Roger Khan was plotting the assassination of Surinamese Government Ministers, as part of his nefarious drug activities. This clearly establishes that this criminal would stop at nothing to further his criminal objectives. These revelations also bring into sharp focus the recent murder of the late Minister of Agriculture, Mr. Satyadeow Sawh.

It is an established fact that Minister Sawh was the subject Minister who refused to sign Khan’s lease despite the fact that the Guyana Forestry Commission had already approved the lease. It is now established that reprisals against Mr. Satyadeow Sawh, a sitting Minister of the Guyana Government, was not beyond the local crime bosses.

The recent public admission by Roger Khan, that he organised and promoted mass killings, is another confirmation of his willingness to commit murder in the promotion of his criminal objectives. The PNCR does not accept assertions that Khan was involved in any anti-crime effort. The fact is that Khan, with the approval and active support of the PPP/C Government, was involved in an effort to protect his criminal turf and eliminate anyone that was perceived to be a threat to his criminal activities. In the process, scores of persons, who were not connected to crime in anyway, were brutally murdered.

The PNCR wishes to reiterate its concern over Khan’s recent efforts, to continue to mobilize ex-military personnel, to form a private army. These efforts, coupled with the theft of the AK 47’s and the recent acts of terror on residents of the East Coast, committed by persons connected to narco-enterprise, have grave implications for national stability. The fact that the Bharrat Jagdeo Government established and maintained relationships with Khan is, by itself, an indication of the criminal nature of the Government and the extent to which they are prepared to put the citizenry at risk.

It is a fact that, in addition to his narco activities, Khan is involved in gun smuggling. Most of these illegal guns are now in the hands of criminals and are being used to rob and murder Guyanese. The support which the PPP/C gave to Khan allowed for the proliferation of these guns which are now being used against the people of Guyana.

The PNCR again calls on the PPP/C to explain its relationship with Roger Khan. The PNCR also calls on the PPP/C to unequivocally condemn crime. Further, the PNCR believes that, given the seriousness of the Roger Khan episode and the extent of the PPP/C involvement in promoting and supporting Khan’s activities, President Bharrat Jagdeo and his Government should have the decency to resign.

ELECTIONS UPDATE

The jury is in on GECOM. As GECOM continues to tell this nation that its work is proceeding apace and the donor community continues to express its confidence in GECOM, the evidence shows that GECOM is proceeding in a blinkered manner and that quality is being sacrificed on the altar of expediency and some deadline that GECOM and the PPP/C have conjured up in their mind.

The PNCR wrote GECOM on the inadequacy of the centers for Claims and Objections. They have brought this process to an end without the courtesy of a response. Even graver is GECOM`s failure to respond to the PNCR`s submission of seventy five examples of voters whose names are listed in divisions other than those in which the said list records them as living. This submission is but a sample of the extent of this problem, a problem which plagued the 2001 elections and which GECOM is hell bent on allowing to plague the 2006 elections. Copies of the PNCR`s submission are available for inspections.

In relation to the Claims and Objections, GECOM failed to follow its own manual, which states that: “An investigation of the objection is conducted and a hearing is held by the Registration Officer”. GECOM generally ignored its own stipulation to investigate and it required the objectors to produce evidence such as death and marriage certificates, which evidence the objectors, are in no position to provide since the laws of Guyana do not provide for third parties to access such documents. There were also instances when relatives presented such documents and were turned away by GECOM.

As stated earlier GECOM even started hearings before the appointed statutory date and before the requirement to post the list of objections was observed. GECOM has no regard for its own rules but expect the citizenry to have confidence in what they are doing. It may be argued by some that the PNCR is bellyaching again. Well, here is what other bodies have to say about GECOM`s work. Out of a sample of 1097 names on the PLE, conducted by the EAB, 27 persons were reported to be dead and 97 persons were reported to have migrated. This represents 11.3% of the sample. The EAB also reported on the persons, who were placed in the wrong division. Mr. Boodoo`s response to this was: “GECOM is aware of the problem and has taken steps in Continuous Registration to regularize the situation”. This means that a problem, which has been with GECOM for over five years, remains unsolved for over 400,000 voters, who comprise the 2001 OLE.

The recently submitted report on the cross-matching of the fingerprints of the voters on the PLE revealed the following: “We found 1,858 duplicate fingerprints in the good fingerprints that represented twenty five percent of the database. We also found 4,515 additional duplicates in the fingerprints that varied in quality from average to below average to poor which account for seventy five percent of the database”. It further stated that: “The large number of below average to poor fingerprints that are in the data base could be the repository of more multiple duplicates.” Another finding of the report is that there are 26,239 incidents of mismatch elector names. “A retake of all of the fingerprints in the categories ‘average’, ‘below average’ and ‘poor’” was also recommended.

With all of these and other deficiencies with the 2001 OLE nothing short of house –to house verification can present an opportunity to produce a clean voters list. GECOM`s former IT Manager, Mr. Griffith and GECOM`s current Chief Elections Officer, Mr. Boodoo were both right when some time ago, long before the present rush, they recommended a new registration as the ideal solution and house to house verification as the compromise. The struggle continues for house-to-house verification.

People's National Congress Reform
Congress Place, Sophia,
Georgetown, Guyana.
Thursday, 22 June, 2006