THE POLICE COMMISSIONER MUST REIGN IN LAWLESS RANKS IN 2010--PRESS STATEMENT Thursday January 7, 2010




SUMMARY:
• The PNCR extends New Year Greetings to all Guyanese in this Year of Opportunity as the Party gears up to successfully overcome the challenges ahead;
• The Police Commissioner must reign in lawless ranks in 2009: The PNCR will continue to expose illegal behaviour;
• The PNCR calls on the Minister of Labour and the Government to end discrimination in the approach to industrial relations and intervene in the dispute at RUSAL;
• The issue of Governance is a major challenge for 2010;
• PNCR Member of Parliament, Mr. Anthony Vieira has resigned from the National Assembly effective January 1, 2010: PNCR extends appreciation to him for the services rendered by him to Guyana and the PNCR.

PNCR EXTENDS NEW YEAR GREETINGS TO ALL GUYANA:

The People’s National Congress Reform extends New Year Greetings to all Guyanese at home and abroad. The Party hopes that Guyanese would seize the opportunity in 2010 to remove many of the fundamental obstacles that have halted the development of our country and to place Guyana on the path to national harmony and real progress.

The year 2009 was plagued by a cycle of unsavory events including: executive lawlessness; lack of transparency; corruption and a plethora of scandals; disregard for the rule of law; decline in morality at the highest levels of the land; interference with the independence of the Judiciary; harassment and victimization of opponents of the Government, including the media; the intensification of the assault on the Trades Union movement and workers generally; lack of tolerance for differing opinions; arrogance, vindictiveness and high-handed behaviour by those in authority; the unreliable and unstable electricity supply; decline in the productive sectors, as exemplified in the Bauxite and Sugar sectors, including the historic inability of GUYSUCO to pay its workers; escalated human rights abuses, marked by the increasing use of torture by the Police and GDF, as most recently illustrated by the torture of a fourteen-year old while in Police custody; and the shameful exposure, in a New York Court, of the hidden Administration hands behind the drug trade and the murder of over two hundred of our citizens over the past years. The year ended with the GRA boasting of the collection of billions in revenues in excess of official projection, but with public service workers receiving an arbitrarily imposed paltry 6% increase in wages and salaries. It is evident, for all who have eyes to see, that, despite the steep increases in collected taxation revenues, the Administration has been doing very little to give relief to the thousands of Guyanese workers, across our country, who have joined the growing army of the working poor that find it difficult to provide for themselves and their families.

The Party hopes that 2010 ushers in a new resolve by all Guyanese to take Guyana forward. This, however, can only be achieved if all stakeholders and our people alike demonstrate a genuine and tangible commitment to this objective.

The PNCR expects that during this year: consultations between the Government and the Opposition will be really meaningful; Local Government Reform becomes a reality; National Broadcast Legislation to establish a National Broadcast Authority will materalise; Freedom of Information Legislation will be passed in the National Assembly; crime and road accidents will be reduced; and that torture and other malpractices by the Disciplined Forces will be eliminated, along with other unprofessional conduct within their ranks. It is also expected that the demand for an international Inquiry into the involvement of the Jagdeo regime in criminal activities including the murder of over two hundred Guyanese, will become a reality.

The Party intends to continue a vigorous programme in and out of the National Assembly to represent the interests of the people of Guyana. Foremost among our activities will be the preparation for Local Government Elections, the implementation of shared Governance and early preparations for the 2011 National and Regional Elections. These activities will be discussed at future Press Conferences.

THE POLICE COMMISSIONER MUST REIGN IN LAWLESS RANKS IN 2010:

The PNCR, in its New Year Message, commended those ranks of the disciplined forces who displayed remarkable courage and exemplary behaviour. Regrettably, it appears that there are still many members of the Guyana Police Force who are determined to undermine the image of that organization. The arrest and imprisonment of a woman and a baby at the Wisroc Police Station jail and the detention of Esther Perreira at the East la Penitence Police Station for six days without justification do not auger well for Police/Community relations in 2010 and must be condemned. Such gross violation of the human rights of our citizens, as guaranteed by the constitution of Guyana, will not be condoned and must be exposed and publicly condemned.

Ms. Esther Perreira, a well-known PNCR activist, was crudely and vindictively arrested at Sophia, on Wednesday 30 December 2009, after she observed that some police ranks were attempting to plant evidence in the home of her son who lives next door to her, while no one was at home. After intercepting this illegal activity, she was promptly arrested and locked up at the East La Penitence Police Station, allegedly, for the offence of robbery under arms. The arresting Officers disappeared and could not be found for several days so that the Officer-in-Charge of the Station could provide no information to her relatives or the lawyer eventually retained by the PNCR to represent her interest. She was eventually released on the afternoon of Monday 4 January 2010 on station bail but, to date, no information on the alleged offence has been filed at the Sophia, Alberttown or the East La Penitence Police Stations.

This is a disturbing case of the abuse of her Constitutional rights. While Perreira has already commenced legal proceedings against the state, it is necessary for the PNCR to warn the Commissioner of Police that such behaviour by ranks of the Police Force will not be condoned and will be resisted in 2010.

PPP MUST STOP ITS DISCRIMINATORY APPROACH TO INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS:

The PNCR calls on the Minister of Labour and the Government to end discrimination in the approach to industrial relations and intervene in the dispute at RUSAL. After several weeks of unlawful behaviour by the Berbice Bauxite Company Inc. (RUSAL), the strike of bauxite workers continues with the Minister of Labour refusing to intervene. This is in direct contrast to the swift intervention by that Ministry in the Sugar workers strike and the recent dispute between the Post Office Union and the Management of the Post Office. The Minister of Labour, who should be an impartial Mediator, has openly sided with the foreign company by first criticising the Guyana Bauxite and General Workers Union (G.B. & G.W.U) and, thereafter, refusing to intervene after RUSAL unlawfully de-recognised the Union and abandoned the Collective Labour Agreement with the Union.

It is evident that RUSAL wants to pursue an anti workers strategy in Guyana similar to what is practiced by them in other countries such as Guinea. Recently, their Industrial Relations Manager of their Guinea Bauxite Company was expelled from Guinea following revelations of the company’s horrid labour practices in that country. The people of Guyana must not allow this to occur here.

The PNCR again calls on RUSAL and the Jagdeo Administration to honour the C.L.A and the Laws of Guyana. Industrial relations norms and practices must be observed and the unlawfully and vindictively dismissed workers must be immediately reinstated.

The struggle must continue.

GOVERNANCE: THE CHALLENGE FOR 2010:

In his New Year message for 2010, Mr. Robert Corbin, MP, Leader of the PNCR and of the Opposition, stated the following:

“The cycle of events over the past years should alert us to the fact that, unless the fundamental issues that affect our country are addressed, we will be doomed to continue on a downward spiral. The crisis that is afflicting our country cannot be wished away by colourful propaganda. Breaking of the cycle of division and ethnic polarization in our country is an important key for unlocking the potential of our people to ensure a prosperous future.

I am convinced, however, that this will only occur if we are prepared to embrace fundamental change. Our system of Governance is pivotal. It is irrelevant whether we want, for convenience, to describe it as shared Governance or inclusive Governance. Let us take the opportunity, in 2010, to commence that journey, no matter how difficult it may seem.”

It has been evident to the PNCR (which formally adopted this since 2002) and to all thinking Guyanese, for some time, that the so-called Westminster, “Winner-take-all”, system has become dysfunctional and is increasingly an obstacle to the development of a Guyanese society that is not ethnically polarised and where all segments of the society feel meaningfully involved for the development of the country. It is increasingly felt that a suitable, constitutionally enshrined, system of Power Sharing or Inclusive Governance or shared Governance represent the way forward for Guyana.

It is, therefore, a matter of some interest that Mr. Donald Ramotar, the PPP General Secretary and Presidential Candidate, in response to the observations of the PNCR Leader, is reported in the Stabroek News of 4 January 2010, under the headline, “Ramotar: PPP open to talks with opposition”. However, on a careful reading of the report, it is clear that Mr. Ramotar seems to be placing emphasis on form and not substance.

To resort to what he euphemistically calls, “the majoritarian’ mechanism, to ignore and override Opposition concerns in the National Assembly , such as has been the case with the Local Government Reform legislation, demonstrates the farcical nature of Mr. Ramotar’s arguments that emphasis be placed on the demonstration of democracy through the Committee system in the National Assembly.

The reality is that the PPP/C Administration has demonstrated an unwillingness to, or its apparent congenital disposition not to, faithfully implement what has been agreed to in the ‘talks with the PNCR’. Accordingly, the issue is not the holding of talks but the “implementation” of what has been agreed in the Talks.

An analysis of the history of 'Talks' between the Parties is instructive.

If we take the 1998 Herdmanston Accord and the St Lucia Statement and the agreements for the implementation of the Menu of Measures, it is clear that a decade after this many of the measures still await full implementation. The Political Dialogue, which was helped by the appointment of a Caricom Facilitator, was reduced to Talk about Talks since the PPP was not prepared to make any concessions on the critical issues such as the distribution of Land and House Lots. In fact, the single success is the establishment of the Ethnic Relations Commission, which, although the Constitutional amendment was passed unanimously by the National Assembly since the fourth quarter of 2000, only became a functioning reality after the Communiqué of 5 May 2003. We all recognise that what has happened since its establishment clearly indicates that the PPP is very reluctant that this institution should independently implement its full mandate.

After the 2001 Election, the late Mr. Hugh Desmond Hoyte, SC, MP, magnanimously agreed with President Jagdeo to establish the following bi-Partisan Task Forces/ Committees: Local Government Reform; Border and National Security Issues, including Recapitalisation of the GDF; National Policy on Distribution of Land and House Lots; Bauxite Resuscitation; Marginalised/Depressed Community Needs; and Radio Monopoly and Non Partisan Boards.

These Task Forces/Committees all produced very valuable Reports with clearly implementable recommendations. However, it is clear that the PPP/C Administration was reluctant to implement these unless and until they were pressured to do so.

The Local Government Reform Task Force was subjected to every foot-dragging and delaying tactics that the PPP could muster to the extent that it required the agreement in the 5 May 2003 Communiqué before it was allowed to continue its work. That is until the President arbitrarily and unilaterally aborted its work with the specious argument that he would rely on the National Assembly to complete the reform of the Local Government system. The experience in the National Assembly has led to the withdrawal of the Parliamentary Opposition Parties from the work of the Special Select Committee.

An examination of the issues agreed in the Communiqué of 5 May 2003 provides clear evidence that the work and recommendations of the 2001 Task Forces/Committees had not been implemented up to those negotiations. Interestingly, the question of the removal of the Government’s Radio Monopoly and the establishment of a National Broadcast Authority still remain to be implemented.

The fact that Talks have not resulted in the good-faith implementation of agreements along with the emerging dictatorial tendencies, the growing arrogance of President Jagdeo and his evident disrespect for the Constitution and the Rule of Law, are rooted in the deficiencies of the existing system of “winner-take-all”.

Is the PPP ready to embrace the implementation of a system based on Power Sharing or Inclusive Governance or Shared Governance?

RESIGNATION OF PNCR/1G MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT, TONY VIEIRA:

PNCR/1G Member of Parliament, Mr. Anthony Vieira has resigned from the National Assembly effective January 1, 2010. After years of harassment, intimidation and the undermining of his business by the Jagdeo Administration Mr. Vieira was placed in such a vulnerable position that he had no alternative but to sell his television Company. In those circumstances, he found it difficult to carry out his activities as a Member of Parliament.

The PNCR extends appreciation to Mr. Vieira for the services rendered by him to Guyana and the PNCR.

People’s National Congress Reform
Congress Place, Sophia,
Georgetown, Guyana
Thursday January 7, 2010