PRESS STATEMENT By People’s National Congress Reform Thursday, 13 July, 2006 Hall of Heroes Congress Place, Sophia.




SUMMARY
• The PNCR continues to maintain that GECOM’s preparations of the 2006 election fall short of the technical, administrative and legal standards required to instill full public confidence;
• Jagdeo’s cabinet outreach PR exercise has become a pathetic comedy show;
• The Minister of Education’s admission that it will take three years for the chaos he has created in secondary school admissions to be resolved is a serious admission of incompetence;
• Outbursts of support from the PPP/C leadership including Mrs. Jagan are telling indications of the close links between the PPP/C and Roger Khan.

GECOM’S MANAGEMENT OF THE 2006 ELECTION SETS DISTURBING PRECEDENTS THAT MUST NOT BE ALLOWED TO BECOME THE NEW STANDARDS FOR ELECTION PREPARATION IN GUYANA

The PNCR notes with great interest the ongoing debate on the state of preparedness of GECOM for a free and fair general election. In particular we take with great seriousness the pronouncements of some sections of the Donor and Diplomatic community. Our Party does not question the financial and technical support given to GECOM by the Diplomatic and Donor community as is implied by some of the comments made by them. We do, however reiterate our informed view that many of the observations and conclusions made in public by some representatives are incorrect and can contribute to political difficulties in Guyana which cannot be in the interest of Guyana or our friends.

In particular, we note with some concern the conclusion drawn by His Excellency Mr. Roland Bullen to the effect that there was no multiple voting in the 2001 elections. Quite apart from the fact that our activists, as well as observers, noted large numbers of such double voting in those elections, the report of the Carter Centre in its status, as observer of the elections, confirmed the conclusion that such multiple voting did take place. We also note the reluctance of friendly countries and international institutions to comment on the blatant misuse of public funds and the abuse of state media by the ruling party.

The PNCR continues to maintain that GECOM’s preparations for the 2006 election fall short of the technical, administrative and legal standards required to instill full public confidence and stakeholder acceptance in the process. The shortcomings and errors are so glaring that they can only be missed by those who prefer to bury their heads in the sand, or dip in the dirt of double standards. For the public record, the PNCR restates several basic facts.

1. GECOM had agreed to verify the 2001 OLE. Since 2004, GECOM had clearly indicated its intention to verify the 2001 OLE. To this end, GECOM included house-to-house verification (HHV) in its project plan and was allocated money to get it done. Its attempt now to drop HHV is therefore a scam on the Guyanese people.
2. GECOM’s 2006 Preliminary List of Electors (PLE) is ILLEGAL. The existence and residency of over 80% of the persons on it (those added from the 2001 OLE) were not verified as required by the laws of Guyana.
3. The 2006 PLE contains tens of thousands of persons who have either DIED or MIGRATED. The EAB field test and an analysis of death and migration rates confirm this uncontested and incontestable fact.
4. The 2006 PLE contains thousands of addresses that are questionable.
5. The 2006 PLE contains thousands of DUPLICATE FINGERPRINTS. Potentially, many more duplicates exist. The Electoral Office of Jamaica (EOJ) has confirmed this fact.
6. The EOJ also found that the list contains 26,239 names for which NO CORRESPONDING REGISTRATION CARDS have been found. GECOM has not reported to what extent it has fixed the problem.
7. The Electoral Assistance Bureau (EAB) found that 2.83% of the voters list (13,775 names) are UNKNOWN PERSONS at given addresses. The PNCR’s own field checks confirm this phenomenon.
8. The 2006 PLE contains thousands of MISMATCHES: persons who have been placed in the WRONG DIVISIONS. This problem has been around since 1997 and got even worse in 2001. What has GECOM done to fix this problem?
9. Many of the recent decisions at GECOM have been made by its Chairman and the PPP/C-nominated Commissioners only.
10. GECOM has repeatedly and willfully ignored the advice of its own technical officers.

These technical and legal deficiencies must not become the new benchmarks for elections in Guyana. The voices of those, such as the EAB and Stabroek News, who in 1992 clamoured for a clean and acceptable voters list are today noticeably silent or have turned dishonest. We will not, however, be daunted in our pursuit with others for a free and fair election in Guyana.
THE CABINET OUTREACH COMEDY SHOW
We are told that the President had ‘pressing engagements’ such that he could not attend the recently concluded Caricom Heads of Government annual Summit held in St Kitts. He felt it necessary to stay at home for what he calls Cabinet Outreaches. The public is not fooled by these excursions headed by Jagdeo. This is a PPP/C political campaign on full throttle and it is being promoted day in day out, hour by hour, on NCN TV and in the Chronicle newspaper.
This complete exercise is being paid for from public funds and is a blatant and unconscionable abuse of the state media. More so, it is a serious misuse of public funds.
The outreaches are intended to be a PR exercise, but turn out to be far from that. Jagdeo and his merry men and women flit around the country, on a meet the people mission. The scenes are comical and laughable and were it not at the expense of the taxpayers, we might have indulged.
We note with amusement that wherever the President and his men turn, they are met with the same issues:
• Crime & Security in our home and on our streets, about which they are clueless, and they say so openly, proudly and without apology;
• Drainage & Irrigation issues about which promises have been made and broken umpteen times;
• Roads and bridges that have either collapsed, having only recently been built, or that have not been built despite repeated promises;
• Water lines that have remained empty, where they exist; or non availability of water to large sections of our communities despite promises.
The common pattern in all of these comedies is that the President repeatedly asks questions, appears either not to know or pretends not to know of the problem. He then expresses disappointment, blames a few officials and then proceeds to make further promises.
And for good measure he throws in further large sums of taxpayers’ money, as if it were his own. If after 14 years in office, you have to traverse the length and breadth of this country, with your entire cabinet, only to find out the above, then it begs the question - Who was running the Country?
CHAOS AND CONFUSION IN EDUCATION

The PNCR recognises that one of its very first priorities will be to bring order and direction to the Education Ministry which is wallowing in a morass of disorder and confusion. Here is no better illustration of this chaos than the confused and painful mismanagement of Secondary School policies on admission and curriculum.

The Ministry of Education must provide adequate numbers of Secondary School places. The fact is that after 14 years in office, the situation is getting worse by the year. Children come to the end of their Primary School cycle and find that there are not enough places in Secondary Schools for them .The Government knows well in advance how many children will need Secondary School places yet year after year parents in some regions have to travel at great expense from school to school in a futile and frantic effort to find a place for their children. There are not enough places and the schools to which children are allocated are oversubscribed. In 2006, children from the East Bank Demerara have been allocated schools on the East Coast Demerara and vice versa. Our information is that at least 2000 children have not been allocated appropriate places in Region 4 alone.

The Secondary School system should be managed to do the following things:

• There must be adequate numbers of school places in the various regions and municipalities.
• There must be adequate numbers of school places in schools of the appropriate type for training of the children.
• All schools should have adequate prevocational and vocational education as well as academic education.
• The selection of children for the secondary system must be fair, transparent and stress free.

The systems now being introduced by the Government cause a multitude of hardships:

• They are not transparent given the obscurity of the allocation criteria and the suspicious nature of the staggered release of results.
• The school based element in assessment will create more not less stress for students
• The system is still unclear and neither teachers nor students are sure of what are the basic rules.
• The system is skewed against the poor and powerless. Indeed one of the major disadvantages of the system is the fact that in the absence of adequate places, there is greater dependence on private education and many poor people are forced to pay fees for secondary education that they can ill afford because of the chaos in the placement system

The Minister’s admission that it will take years for the chaos he has created to be resolved is one of the most pathetic admissions of incompetence from any political official in the history of this country. The President's assertion that he did not know about the problem is not to be taken seriously. He says that every year. We wish to assure parents that it will be resolved and resolved quickly and efficiently by the new Administration headed by the PNCR.

The PNCR led Government will reintroduce an objective system for placement and evaluation of children by national tests which will reduce the current overemphasis on content and place greater emphasis on aptitude and learning readiness. We will also reintroduce a nationwide system of a multilateral type of education which provides all children with the opportunity to take an education path suited to their own aptitudes and the needs of the national economy.

The PPP/C is wedded to an overemphasis on academic education even though all the global and regional trends prove that there is need for greater emphasis on multifaceted pre vocational education if Guyana is to be competitive in the world economy which places much emphasis on modern skills and aptitudes.

DRUGS AND THE PPP/C

The People’s National Congress Reform has noted with great interest the response of the Bharrat Jagdeo Government towards the fall of Roger Khan. The total lack of enthusiasm for the capture of Khan by the Surinamese authorities and his subsequent arrest by US authorities after expulsion from Suriname is a clear indication of the approach of the Bharrat Jagdeo Government towards crime and criminals.

The United States and Surinamese Governments and the Guyana Police Force have all deemed Khan a menace to society. This is based not only on his alleged involvement in the narco trade but also because of his reportedly deep involvement in the smuggling of guns which have led to an astronomical increase in gun crimes over the last few years. As a result, it would be expected that any decent Government would be highly pleased by the capture and arraignment of Roger Khan. However, it is sad to say that this does not appear to be the case with the Jagdeo Government.

In the first instance, Dr. Roger Luncheon attempted to undermine the Surinamese Government’s allegations by proclaiming that there is no strong case against Khan in Guyana. This no doubt was intended to cast Khan in the realm of a legitimate business man who was arrested by the Surinamese.

The subsequent condemnation of the United States by Mrs. Jagan, for its arrest of Khan, compounds Dr. Luncheon’s very strange, earlier pronouncements. Mrs. Jagan’s protestations cannot be because of the PPP/C’s belief in due process. It is the same PPP/C Government that abandoned due process and commissioned the death squads that were responsible for the brutal murder of hundreds of Guyanese. Therefore, Mrs. Jagan’s outburst must be seen as an indication of the close links between the PPP/C and Khan.

The PNCR takes this opportunity to condemn the association between Roger Khan and the PPP/C Government. The PNCR believes that this association allowed the proliferation of illegal guns in the society that in turn spawned a brutal crime wave that resulted in the murder of scores of Guyanese. The PPP/C is directly responsible for these deaths since it facilitated the illegal importation of the guns that were used.

The PNCR has noted the recent comments by US Ambassador, Mr. Roland Bullen, which confirms PNCR’s assertions that the drug trade is now endemic in our society. This statement is a serious indictment of the Bharrat Jagdeo Government. It is known that senior members of the Government have serious links with drug barons.

The PNCR believes that the arrest of Roger Khan has not destroyed the drug empire in Guyana. There are numbers of persons waiting to fill the vacuum and, with a government that is compliant, this would quickly materialize. This would lead to a resurgence of the drugs and gun trade and subsequent escalation of violent crimes. This cannot be allowed to happen.

The coming elections are therefore an opportunity for the Guyanese people to rid themselves of the criminal PPP/C Government. The PNCR wishes to advise Guyanese that in the coming elections a vote for the PPP/C would be a vote for the Drug Empire and gun smuggling that would result in the escalation of violent gun crimes and murder.

The PNCR takes this opportunity to commit its government to zero tolerance on drugs and gun smuggling. The new PNCR led Government will give total and unreserved support to the Guyana Police Force so as to ensure the total destruction of the organised drug trade in Guyana. The PNCR promises major revelation and indictments within its first one hundred days in Office.

The PNCR understands that the drug trade and the consequential criminal activities undermine our investment climate. It directly affects our ability to attract serious investments that would create jobs for our young people. In the interest of our young people, the PNCR led Government will do all that is necessary to ensure that the drug trade and crime do not undermine our investment climate.

People's National Congress Reform
Congress Place, Sophia,
Georgetown, Guyana.
Thursday, 13 July, 2006