PNCR CONDEMNS ARBITRARY DETENTION AND EXPULSION OF RELIGIOUS BODY--PRESS STATEMENTThursday 3 September 2009




SUMMARY:
• The Leadership of the Party has taken some initial steps towards conflict resolution in the Party with the objective of ensuring the full participation of all members and supporters in the tasks ahead;
• The PNCR condemns the detention and subsequent expulsion from Guyana, of all the foreign members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints;
• The sacred right of the workers to withdraw their labour to demand better working conditions has been achieved after long and bitter struggle by workers of Guyana;
• The killing of young Ramdass by ranks of the GDF exposes the criminality within the ranks of our security forces, a worrying development to which the PNCR had several times adverted at its Press Conferences.

NEW PNCR EXECUTIVE EXPRESSES APPRECIATION TO ALL WHO ASSISTED IN MAKING ITS CONGRESS A SUCCESS

The newly elected Officers and members of the Central Executive Committee would like to express sincere appreciation to all its friends and supporters of the Party who contributed to the success of the Party’s 16th Biennial Delegates Congress. The Congress, held under the theme, “Peoples Victory Through Local Democracy”, ended in the early hours of Sunday August 23, 2009. Among the resolutions passed before conclusion was one, which mandated the next General Council of the Party to conclude all the unfinished Congress Business.

Since the conclusion of Congress the Central Executive Committee has formally met and has begun it work in keeping with the mandate of the Congress. The newly elected Committee includes:

LEADER: Mr. Robert Corbin; CHAIRMAN: Mr. Bishwaishwar (Cammie) Ramsaroop; VICE-CHAIRPERSONS: Mr. Basil Williams and Dr. George Norton; TREASURER: Mr. Clarence Charles; Fifteen Elected members of the CENTRAL EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE: Mr. Oscar Clarke, Dr. Aubrey Armstrong, Ms. Volda Lawrence, Ms. Amna Ally, Ms. Florence Bourne, Mr. Clement Corlette, Mr. Ernest Elliot, Ms. Lurlene Nestor, Mr. Nazir Ally, Mr. Hamilton Green, Dr. Faith Harding, Mrs. Eileen Beni Rayman, Ms. Carol Joseph, Mr. Morris Wilson and Mrs. Clarissa Riehl.

In addition to those elected at Congress, the ten elected Regional representatives to the CEC will continue to serve out their terms until their respective Regional Conferences are held. Similarly, the two representatives of the Youth Movement, the GYSM and two representatives from the NCW will continue to be members. Ten other persons are expected to be co-opted soon.

Among the immediate tasks determined by the CEC are, the re-establishment of the various Party Committees; the continued pursuit of actions to ensure that there is an International Inquiry into the Guyana Government’s involvement in the narcotic trade, and the murder of over two hundred Guyanese Youth; continued work with the Joint Opposition Political Parties (JOPP) in pursuit of common objectives; the preparation for Local Government Elections; the acceleration of the Party’s welfare, economic empowerment and youth empowerment programmes; and, the re-organising and strengthening of the Party Organization. A number of meetings have already been held with members in various Regions to brief them on the immediate plans of the new Executive and these are continuing. The Party will keep the public updated on these and other activities.

Since the conclusion of the Congress, the Party has also received the Official Report of the Returning Officer. In that report, the Returning Officer gave a detailed account of the processes relating to the recent Elections. In concluding his report, the Returning Officer has stated that,

“No objections or complaints were lodged by any of the candidates after the Election. I am satisfied that the process was free, fair and transparent and the results reflect the will of the delegates of the Congress”. The Party will soon release this report.

The Leadership of the Party has also taken some initial steps towards conflict resolution in the Party with the objective of ensuring the full participation of all members and supporters in the tasks ahead.

PNCR CONDEMNS ARBITRARY DETENTION AND EXPULSION OF RELIGIOUS BODY

The PNCR condemns the detention and subsequent expulsion from Guyana, of all the foreign members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. This arbitrary action by the Guyana Immigration Authorities and the Government of Guyana of denying those members of the religious community due process must be a matter of concern to all Guyanese. It is worrying that the Government of Guyana, in addition to the violation of a Court Order and the Laws of Guyana, would set such a bad example in the treatment of foreigners while at the same time condemning similar treatment of Guyanese by Caribbean and foreign Governments.

Contrary to the utterances from the Ministry of Home Affairs, the PNCR has been reliably informed that members of this Church have been complying with the Law and have used the relevant procedures to represent their interests. What is evident, however, is an apparent vendetta by the PPP/C Administration towards this religious body, which has been carrying out religious and social development activities in Guyana for more than two decades.

The Official report of the Government also deliberately misinforms Guyanese of what transpired, thus the motivations of the PPP/C Administration is questionable. Why would a senior Police Officer when presented with a Court Order from the High Court indicate that the Government did not intend to honour that Order? The continuous disregard for the law, the Constitution and the Judiciary by President Jagdeo was again evident. After refusing to accept the Court Order, the President then invites two of these religious representatives to his Office and proceeded to deliver his personal 30-day clemency period for their departure, demonstrating that he is above the Law.

The unanswered question is why would the PPP/C Administration carry out this vendetta against an established Church group that has been involved in providing tremendous humanitarian and economic assistance to many communities in Guyana?

There are also rumors that this is one of the ways that the Cabinet has agreed to respond to the withdrawal of the US Visas from certain PPP Officials, including Former Minister Of Home Affairs, Mr. Ronald Gajraj, and current Home Affairs Minister, Mr. Clement Rohee. Another source suggests that this recent action is in retaliation against the US treatment of Roger Khan and the recent exposure of Guyana Government in the US Courts.

In these circumstances, the people of Guyana deserve a truthful explanation from the Government of their recent action. The PNCR calls on President Jagdeo for a full and complete statement on this matter.

BAUXITE COMPANY INTIMIDATING UNION LEADERS

The People’s National Congress Reform has noted the strange and unprecedented development where the Management of the Bauxite Company in Berbice has filed an action against two union Leaders of the Bauxite Union, Mr. Leslie Gonsalves and Mr. Carlton Sinclair, claiming damages in excess of US$290,000 and G$1, 439,600 for allegedly encouraging workers to strike.

The sacred right of the workers to withdraw their labour to demand better working conditions has been achieved after a long and bitter struggle by workers of Guyana. This struggle was started by Hubert Nathaniel Critchlow and was continued by other outstanding Trade Unions, Unionists and Political Leaders of Guyana, including Mr. L.F.S. Burnham and Mr. Cheddi Jagan.

That the PPP/C Administration would encourage the reversals of all these gains of the workers of Guyana is testimony to the continuous slide of Guyana into dictatorship. The workers in the Bauxite Company must not allow this Russian Company to destroy the rights and the gains they have worked so hard for, for more than a century. The PNCR looks forward to a robust response to this latest threat of the rights of the unions, as the PNCR stands ready to support the workers.

What is clear, but nevertheless unfortunate, is that the Bauxite Company is being encouraged by the Jagdeo Administration in this immoral behaviour. The PNCR calls on the Minister of Labour, Mr. Mansoor Nadir to speak out on this matter.

SOLIDARITY FOREVER! THEY WILL NOT PASS!

PNCR CONDEMNS KILLING OF DWEIVE KANT RAMDASS BY RANKS OF THE GDF: CALLS ON GDF TO REIN IN WAYWARD RANKS

On Wednesday August 26, 2009 the People’s National Congress Reform unreservedly condemned the killing of twenty-three years old Dweive Kant Ramdass by three ranks of the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) in the Essequibo River on the 20 August 2009. The Party, then, extended its sympathy to the family, relatives and friends of this young man and stated that the manner in which this young Guyanese citizen was killed, speaks volumes about the extent to which rogue elements in the security forces are out of control. It also emphasises the fact that these elements are under the misapprehension that they are above the law, when they, in fact, should be its guardians.

The killing of young Ramdass by ranks of the GDF exposes the criminality within the ranks of our security forces, a worrying development to which the PNCR had several times adverted to at its Press Conferences. The Party had warned that if this situation was not brought under control, the integrity of the Force as one of the primary agencies for the upholding the law would be completely undermined. The Party hopes that the Courts of Guyana and the Chief of Staff will ensure that the rogue elements in the GDF are reined in and that Justice is served.

The PNCR had called upon the Chief Of Staff to give a direct assurance to the Nation that he is undertaking action to curb the activities of these unruly and wayward bands of soldiers and to explain what measures he will be implementing in this direction. To date we have not heard from the Chief Of Staff except for the intensive PR campaign launched by that Organisation. The PNCR again advises the Chief Of Staff that concrete measures are required. PR alone will not suffice.


People’s National Congress Reform
Congress Place, Sophia,
Georgetown, Guyana
Thursday 3 September 2009




STATEMENT BY RETURNING OFFICER ON PNCR 2009 BIENNIAL CONGRESS ELECTIONS
by MR. JOSEPH HARMON, Retd, Lt. Col., Attorney-at-Law.

I accepted the Responsibility of being the Returning Officer of the PNCR 16th Biennial Congress Elections after I was informed that my name was selected from a Panel of Persons unanimously identified by the Central Executive Committee of the Party. In preparation for this task, I held meetings with the Officer In charge of Accreditation, Mr. Lance Carberry, to be advised of the general guidelines approved for the holding of the Elections in accordance with the PNCR’s Constitution and by the CEC of the Party.

I received copies of the guidelines approved by the Central Executive Committee, at its meeting on the 23 July 2009, for the finalization of the membership register and the preparation of the final list of delegates entitled to vote at the elections.

(“Verification of Membership List and Accreditation of Delegates and Observers: Procedure to be followed.”)

This document informed members of the Claims and Objections period, which began from 19 July and came to its end on 9 August 2009. I was further advised that this document was brought to the attention of all Party Groups countrywide and that the final list was prepared in accordance with these guidelines.

With respect to the procedure to be followed for the Elections, I was provided with a document entitled, “The Registration and Elections Processes for the 16th Biennial Congress, 21-22 August 2009”, approved by the CEC on Saturday August 8, 2009. I was also informed that this document had been circulated to all groups and the candidates contesting the Elections.

Among the measures identified in the document were,

1. Independent Observers: The PNCR would invite a panel of independent and imminent persons, who are friends of the Party, to monitor the various processes used, particularly, for the registration and identification of Delegates and Observers, as well as for the Election of the Party’s Central Executive Committee.

2. An Independent Returning Officer: An independent Returning Officer would undertake the task of managing the Elections and that person would be free to appoint his/her own assistants to manage the election’s process. In this regard, I appointed Mr. Randolph Kirton, Attorney-at-Law and Trade Unionist as my Deputy.

3. The Delegates and Observers Registration Process: I was advised that each Party Group was notified by circular No. 2 of 15 June 2009, of their Delegate and Observer entitlement and requested that all nominations, including those for Candidates, should be submitted to the Secretariat by Wednesday 15 July 2009. The circular also requested that a designated regional official be appointed to ensure that the region’s delegates and observers are properly identified for registration

4. The issuing of Delegates and Observer ID Cards: Delegate and Observers were to be properly identified at the Registration Center after which they would be issued with an easily distinguishable pre-prepared numbered Delegate or Observer ID Card. The card would show the Name, Group and Region represented by the Delegate or Observer and would be signed by the Convener of the Accreditation Committee. Each Delegate will be required to wear his/her ID card in a prominent position. I was also advised that it was established practice to permit replacement delegates if, for some satisfactory reason, the original delegate could not attend the Congress. The Accreditation Committee deals with this on a case-by-case basis.

5. Roll Call of Delegates before they are seated for the Conduct of Elections: The Convener of the Accreditation Committee would provide the Returning Officer with the complete list of all Delegates, ordered by the region he/she represents, along with the list of Automatic Delegates. Each Delegate will be required to prominently wear his/her ID card, showing his/her Name, Group and Region, in preparation for the Conduct of the Elections, the Returning Officer will be able to conduct a roll call and identification of each delegate, before he/she is seated in seats reserved for the region from which he/she is drawn.

6. The Elections would be in Five (5) Stages: Since it is common for a Candidate to be nominated for, and actually be contesting, more than one position, the Elections will be conducted in five (5) stages with the result for each stage being declared before moving on to the next stage.

Stage I: Election of the Leader
Stage II: Election of the Chairperson
Stage III: Election of the two (2) Vice-Chairpersons
Stage IV: Election of the Treasurer
Stage V: Election of the fifteen (15) other members of the CEC

7. Voting & Ballot Boxes
Ballot boxes will be used for the casting of votes. Each voter would proceed to the balloting station where he/she would be issued with a ballot paper prior to being allowed privacy in voting. That voter would then place their Ballot in a ballot box before returning to their seat.

8. The Counting of Votes
The counting of the votes will be undertaken in full public view.

9. Scrutineers
Each Candidate, if he/she so desires, would be entitled to appoint his/her own scrutineer(s) to monitor the Registration process and for the balloting and counting of votes.


STAFF AND INDEPENDENT OBSERVERS
I assumed full control of the process and identified my own staff to conduct the elections. None of those indentified are active members of the PNCR, to the best of my knowledge.
I was also advised that three independent observers were identified to monitor the process. They were, Mr. Samuel Trauss, Educator and Accountant, Mr. Deryck, Cummings, Consultant, and Mr. Nigel Pile, Businessman. They were given free access to all that transpired and monitored from the preparation of Ballot Papers to the declaration of the results.

PREPARATION OP BALLOT PAPER
On assuming responsibility, I received a report of the List of nominees for the various posts to be contested, including those persons who had declined nomination at the time I took charge of the process.
I supervised the production of the necessary ballot papers for the Elections for the various posts to be contested two hours before the Elections were scheduled to begin and had possession and control of these ballot papers throughout the process.

SCRUTINEERS APPOINTED
Candidates were entitled to identifiy scrutineers who were accredited to monitor their interests during the process. A Chief Scrutineer and six other scrutineers were appointed by Candidate Murray and duly accredited to monitor the process. One Chief scrutineer and three other scrutineers were appointed by Candidate Corbin and duly accredited. Mr. Van West Charles had earlier submitted a list of scrutineers who were duly accredited to monitor the process. All of these scrutineers were entitled to raise any concerns with me or any of my assistants during the conduct of the elections.

DELEGATE LIST
The Official List of delegates was provided to the Leadership Candidates to facilitate their monitoring the registration process and the vote. This list was supplemented by updates from the Registration process taking account of subsequent changes as a result of delegate replacement by groups. Candidates were therefore in a position to monitor the roll call from the list provided to them.

MEETING WITH LEADERSHIP CANDIDATES
Before the commencement of the Elections, I held a meeting with the two remaining contestants for the post of Leader, Mr. Winston Murray and Mr. Robert Corbin, to hear from them if there were any concerns that they wished to bring to my attention. Present at that meeting were their Chief Scrutineers, two of my assistants, Mr. Oscar Clarke, General Secretary of the PNCR and Mr. Lance Carberry, the Head of he Accreditation Committee.

Both candidates raised a number of issues. Among the claims were that a few persons were being denied delegate status, two of whom were specifically named by Mr. Murray and three by Mr. Corbin; an allegation that a few persons who were not accredited had delegate cards, a complaint that one person had a bulk of delegate cards in her possession.

The General Secretary and the Accreditation Officer addressed these matters. Source records were perused in my presence to clarify some of these matters. At the end, there were approximately fourteen names that were still the subject of query. One of which was a claim by both Mr. Corbin and Mr. Murray that seven persons from the Belladrum GYSM group were denied their delegate status albeit they had submitted their names. This matter was to be investigated.

There were also concerns about the delegate list that was being updated to reflect the replacement delegates. It was agreed by all that the registration process should be halted immediately as the elections were about to commence and that the register would have been updated to facilitate the roll call of delegates.

Other matters also agreed at that meeting: At the request of Mr. Murray, it was agreed that the names of the Leadership candidates no longer contesting the post should be blotted out before the ballot paper was distributed. This was done leaving only the two candidates names on the ballot paper.

It was also agreed that persons with any disability would be allowed to ask anyone they choose to assist them in voting. Delegates would also be permitted to take with them any aids to assist them to remember the names they wished to vote for, particularly in the election of the fifteen members of the CEC from a list of 109 contestants.

While there were still a few matters to be investigated the Leadership candidates agreed that we could proceed with the elections.

BRIEFING OF DELEGATES & ROLL CALL
The delegates were briefed by me on the election procedure and asked to clear the conference hall to commence the roll call. The delegates were then announced by Region and name and, as their names were called, allowed entry into the Voting area. A check was made to ensure that all those persons called had proper Delegate Identification Cards.

THE VOTING PROCESS
Scrutineers of the various candidates were authorized to take up their positions and the voting commenced in accordance with the procedure outlined earlier in the presence of observers.

Seven voting stations were laid out in the center of the Auditorium in full view of those present. Voting commenced at these stations upon my instructions. Delegates proceeded row by row to the voting station nearest to them, where each person was issued with a ballot paper and permitted to vote.

Ballots were placed in transparent plastic ballot boxes, which were displayed to verify that they were empty before the commencement of the process.

During the first stage of voting there was some noise being made by delegates at the fourth balloting station. On investigation, there were some verbal exchanges between delegates about a person whom they alleged had already voted in one row and was returning to vote again. This matter was resolved after I gave the benefit of the doubt to the delegate to cast his ballot. There was also a loud noise coming from the entrance of the conference hall before the voting was completed. On investigation, there was an allegation that some persons were attempting to enter the conference hall. This matter eventually resolved.

COUNTING OF VOTES
At the end of the polling, the ballot boxes were taken to the stage in full view of all delegates where the counting of the votes was done. A scrutineer for each of the candidates as well as the Independent Observers monitored the count. The results were declared immediately and before the next stage of the voting commenced.

The voting for the next stage, i.e. for the post of Chairman, followed a similar pattern to the first. As was the case during the first stage, there were a few instances where delegates, as distinct from party scrutineers, raised objections to a few persons voting on the basis that they had voted in a next row. These could not be substantiated. The results were declared as was done in the first stage.

The other three stages of the voting proceeded with little incident and, except for the counting of the votes for the CEC, the results of the Vice Chairpersons and Treasurer were declared immediately after the count.

It was after midnight and I made the decision with the approval of delegates to count the ballots for the CEC on the following day from 10:00 AM. The ballots were secured and I kept the key for the room in which they were stored. Counting of these votes continued on Sunday August 23 from 11:00 AM in the presence of several candidates, scrutineers, and independent observers.

DECLARED RESULTS
The results declared are as follows:

LEADER: Mr. Robert Corbin: 614 votes
Mr. Winston Murray: 223 votes
Spoilt votes: 4
Total Votes Cast: 841

CHAIRMAN:
Mr. Baishwishwar (Cammie) Ramsaroop: 460 votes
Ms. Clarissa Riehl: 19 votes
Mr. Dalgliesh Joseph: 9 votes
Spoilt: 3 votes
Total Votes Cast: 491 votes


VICE CHAIRPERSONS:
Mr.Basil Williams: 396 votes
Mr. George Norton: 326 votes
Ms. Clarissa Riehl: 9 votes
Mr. Mervyn Williams: 6 votes
Dr. Dalgleish Joseph: 1 vote
Spoilt: 2 votes

TREASURER
Clarence Charles: 171 votes
Clement Corlette: 164 votes
Sherwin Benjamin: 5 votes
Clarissa Riehl: 5 votes
Randy Nurse: 2 votes
Melanie Cornette: 1 vote
Spoilt: 1 vote
Total Votes Cast: 348 votes

CENTRAL EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE
There were 109 candidates. The fifteen candidates with the highest votes are:

Oscar Clarke : 275 votes
Aubrey Armstrong : 271
Volda Lawrence : 268
Amna Ally : 261
Florence Bourne : 236
Clement Corlette : 214
Ernest Elliot : 212
Lurlene Nestor : 207
Nazir Ally : 199
Hamilton Green : 190
Faith Harding : 189
BeniPrashad Rayman : 164
Carol Joseph : 160
Morris Wilson : 118
Clarissa Riehl : 110

NO OBJECTIONS LODGED
No objections or complaints were lodged by any of the candidates after the Election. I am satisfied that the process was free fair and transparent and the results reflect the will of the delegates of the Congress;


…………………………………
Joseph Harmon
Returning Officer