PRESS STATEMENT By People’s National Congress Reform Friday 15 February 2008 Media Centre, Congress Place, Sophia


The PPP/C yesterday, 14 February 2008, rejected the Motion to suspend the Standing Orders of the National assembly to allow the Debate on the Motion, submitted by the Leader of the PNCR-1G and Leader of the Opposition, Mr Robert Corbin, MP, which sought to have the entire National Assembly committed for the condemnation of the brutal and horrific killing of the eleven (11) Lusignan victims; extending deepest and sincerest sympathy to their families and the family of the Guyana Defence Force corporal who were murdered; and to call on the Government to implement a definite action plan to arrest the crime situation and to avert the downward spiralling of the security condition in the country.

The Leader of the PNCR submitted the Motion, on 2 February 2008, to the Speaker requesting him to use his powers, under the Standing Order 8(2), to summon a special Sitting of the National Assembly to debate the Motion.

In his reply, on 5 February 2008, the Speaker stated that the Prime Minister had signalled that the Government intended to ask for a Sitting of the National Assembly to be held, on 11 February 2008, and that the Motion would be placed on the Order Paper for that Sitting. However, because of the funeral of our own late colleague, Mr. Deryck Bernard, that Sitting was postponed to Thursday 14 February 2008.

The Clerk of the National Assembly, informed the Leader that the Speaker was prepared to entertain a Motion for the adjournment of the National Assembly on a Definite Matter Of Urgent Public Importance and that the Government would support same. However, because of the restrictive conditions which apply to such a Motion – only permits a general debate on Lusignan and not on the important elements contained in the original Motion, thereby frustrating the purpose of the Motion. In the circumstances, the Leader of the PNCR wrote the Prime Minister, the Hon. Samuel Hinds, MP, requesting him, as Leader of the Government Business in the House, to cause an appropriate Motion to be passed, in the National Assembly, for the suspension of the relevant Standing Orders, to allow the original Motion of sympathy to be debated at the Sitting on 14 February 2008.

The Prime Minister, in his reply, pointed out that Standing Order 31 required “……the consent of the Speaker and the assent of the majority of the Members present at a sitting at the time” and this could be moved by any member. He further stated that the Government preferred to entertain and support a Motion under the restrictive conditions which apply to an Adjournment Motion to discuss a Matter of Urgent Public importance.

Since the Party considered it important that the original Motion be debated, the Leader of the Opposition took the precaution of writing to the Speaker to satisfy the requirements of Standing Order 12, to have the Motion debated through that mechanism.

On arrival at National Assembly yesterday, however, the PNCR was advised that no flexibility could be exercised, under the provisions for a Debate under Standing Order 12. Therefore, only a general debate could take place and this would be confined to, “The events, together with the surrounding circumstances, which occurred on the 26th January 2008 at Lusignan, East Coast Demerara”.

The position of the PNCR was that such a debate would not have resulted in the adoption of a Motion expressing sympathy to the bereaved relatives of the Lusignan victims or the soldier from Dartmouth. Therefore, it would not have served the purpose of ensuring that the National Assembly collectively expressed its sympathy for the victims of the Lusignan tragedy and the GDF corporal, along with a decision to call on the Government to implement a definite action plan to deal with the deteriorating security situation.

In such circumstances, the PNCR followed the advice of the Prime Minister, in his letter, dated 13 February 2008, that the Motion could be debated “with the consent of the Speaker and the assent of the majority of the Members present at a sitting at the time”.

A Motion was, accordingly, moved by the Leader of the Opposition and seconded by Mr Winston Murray, CCH, MP, to suspend the Standing Orders, with respect to time for notice, to permit the House an opportunity to debate the original Motion submitted by the PNCR, on 2nd February 2008. Disappointingly and regrettably, the PPP/C, faced with this final test of their sincerity and commitment, showed their true colours by voting against the Motion.

Meanwhile, Mr Clement Rohee sought and obtained approval from the Speaker to have an open ended debate on the Lusignan tragedy, under the item Definite Matters of Urgent Public Importance. This is the very approach that the PNCR sought to avoid, since such an open ended debate would have been an exercise in futility, leading to no meaningful resolution.

It is important to note that, while Mr. Rohee and the PPP/C wanted to use a mechanism that restricted the debate solely to the events of Saturday 26 January 2008, they were unprepared to accept their own machinations when the Opposition withdrew from the National Assembly Sitting. This was evident when Minister Rohee attempted to break the rules and went outside of the allowed confines of the Debate. This led to the Speaker ruling, in accordance with the Standing Orders, and the Minister threatening to deal with the Speaker by extra-parliamentary means.

This was a clear exercise, on the part of the Minister and the PPP/C, of deceit, arrogance and the usual wanton abuse of power.

It is obvious that the charade, exhibited by the PPP/C, about concerns for the Lusignan victims has been mere political posturing, born out of political self preservation rather than any genuine concern for the victims. The PPP/C had hoped to continue the political masquerade that they were exhibiting on the state owned NCN Channel 11, for the past 2 weeks, where PPP/C officials have exercised a monopoly on that television station and conducted an exercise of wrongful blaming and divisive politics.

The PNCR wishes to reiterate its position that we are prepared to be involved in serious decision-making on the security situation in Guyana but we are not prepare to be involved in the PPP/C scheme of deceit and divisiveness.

The PNCR notes that, from the inception, Mr. Jagdeo has made himself judge and jury and seems to be reluctant to have a proper investigation into the horrific killing of eleven (11) Guyanese citizens in Lusignan, on Saturday 26 January 2008.

The PNCR calls on the Jagdeo PPP/C regime to stop playing politics with the security situation in Guyana, and, immediately, establish an independent commission to enquire into the events that occurred at Lusignan. It is evident to all, apparently except for the PPP/C mouthpieces, that the Government must produce and present to the Guyanese people a credible and sustainable security plan that involves all stakeholders and would be implemented within the context of a modern civil-military relationship that is reflective of good governance and guided by the rule of law.

People’s National Congress Reform
Congress Place, Sophia
Georgetown, Guyana.
Friday, February 15, 2008