PRESS STATEMENT By The People’s National Congress Reform To The Press Conference on Thursday October 17, 2002 In The Hall of Heroes, Congress Place, Sophia.

The PNCR joins the rest of Guyana in saluting the recent victory by Wayne ‘Big Truck’ Braithwaite in Italy which earned him the World Cruiserweight Championship. We are proud of him and his achievement and hope that his success will be an example to all aspiring young sports persons. We are particularly pleased by his patriotism and passion to be identified with his native land. May his reign be long and successful.

The President of the Republic, Mr. Bharrat Jagdeo has claimed the he does not understand what the PNCR means when it calls for a national consensual approach to the solution of the internal security problems facing Guyana at this time. He alleges that the words “national consensual approach” are vague and confusing. For his benefit therefore, we wish to state that the Oxford dictionary defines consensual to mean ‘relating to or involving consent’. It defines approach as ‘to come near’. The leadership of the PNCR uses language with great care and when we make statements in Press Releases, we mean precisely what we say. The PNCR reiterates that the solutions to the security problems in Guyana lie in a national consensual approach. If that is unclear to him, it is further proof of his diminished capacity for the headship of a government. Indeed, the PNCR is reliably informed that prominent and well-respected members and supporters of his own government have come to that conclusion and are articulating such a view.

These supporters and friends of the government are wise and patriotic for they would be hard put to explain the extraordinary and irrational behaviour of Mr. Jagdeo. For example, the foolish and ultimately embarrassing arrest of Mr. Paul Fraser for attempted murder which could only be explained by cold malice and vindictiveness as a response to Mr. Fraser’s alleged role in the organisation of the successful business shutdown. What is even more alarming is the fact that Mr. Jagdeo has alleged that Mr. Fraser’s arrest was the work of the PNCR! How much more of this nonsense can the country take? The pattern of governance which firstly commits an absurd gaffe and then seeks to blame the PNCR as usual must come to an end and that very soon. Will Mr. Jagdeo ever grow up to take responsibility for his own misdeeds?

How can anyone understand the extraordinary attack on the opposition leader for appearing in defence of a woman who is quite clearly the victim of obvious and crude police harassment. The PNCR reaffirms the right of Mr. Hoyte to carry out his moral and professional duties as an attorney to defend a victimised and oppressed woman. Secondly, we condemn the cowardly and ill-disguised lies told by the President in an attempt to besmirch the reputation of Gloria Thomas by alleging that she organised the funeral of one of the escapees. Mr. Jagdeo as Head of government is privy to the intelligence and other reports of the police and army and must know his allegations to be undisguised lies.
Every act of Mr. Jagdeo convinces us that he is unfit for high office and that he should depart in peace before he completely wrecks our beloved country

One of the sad features of our political climate is the increasingly negative and unconstructive attitude of the government to any attempt by the PNCR to offer a hand of cooperation on any subject. This attitude has wrecked the whole process of dialogue and collaboration.
The PNCR’s position is very clear. I wish to quote from a speech by Mr. Desmond Hoyte, made in Parliament in January 1993.

 “We will support all actions that will redound to the benefit of the people of Guyana. We would consider it our duty to help promote policies and programmes that are in the national interest.”
 “There is no way that the Government could hope to carry out its policies and programmes successfully without a large measure of cooperation from the Peoples National Congress.”

The most recent example of PPP/C negativity was the reaction of the government to our proposals outlined by Mr. Hoyte in a public meeting in Buxton where he proposed that the community there required a major injection of social and economic programmes to resolve the complex issues at work. There are two responses from the administration. First they have claimed through Mr. Collymore that the government has already spent that sum in Buxton. No one of course takes that story seriously. The second is the claim by Jagdeo and some of his less thoughtful acolytes that this proposal was in effect a ransom demand. This is an extraordinary and insensitive response, which could make the problems, which we are facing, even more intractable than they are at the present time. The government is as usual unable to keep a common policy or coordinate its own lying. While they claimed to have already carried out such a programme and that the suggestion is a ransom, they have also announced that the infamous Mr. Lumumba will spearhead such a programme. Confusion, lies and deceit are a destructive mixture as a mode of governance.
In the meantime in the presence of our depressed economic circumstances and escalating poverty the government has imported 12 new luxury vehicles for some of its top cadres. We are reliably informed that it is a socialist mixture of luxury cars and four wheel drive vehicles. The priority of the PPP/Civic is clear. The government has again shown itself to be swift to pamper its top cronies.

The PPP/C has attempted to rebut our claims about their sorry record in office. The basis of the propaganda is to point to the public work and Infrastructural projects completed in the ten years. No one has attempted to deny that some work was done but we wish to remind the nation of three facts.

 These projects were all negotiated and in place when the PPP/C acceded to office in 1992.
 Every single project administered by the PPP/C has gone overtime and has been mired in delays and
 The projects run by the PPP/C have been the vehicle for graft, corruption and sleaze. Indeed their emphasis
on project spending has facilitated the now endemic corruption at all levels of government.

We repeat our assertions that

 No major investment has come to Guyana under this regime and
 That the government has been rudderless and incompetent driving the country into confusion and

We can do no better than repeat two conclusions of the Stabroek News Editorial of Sunday October 13th which we believe state the case with great elegance and clarity.

 “When people cannot get an answer from the decision makers, the message they will receive is that there is a vacuum at the centre of power. It is this, which does more than anything else to undermine respect for government.”
 “One of the characteristics of this administration has been its reluctance to address policy issues. Its strong suit is physical infrastructure - school buildings, water wells, etc, but it has shown an aversion to anything requiring serious thought on the application of principles.”

The crime wave remains serious and there appears to be no end in sight. We welcome the progress being made by the Social Partners in addressing the issue as part of their interest in good governance and we pledge support for their efforts with seriousness, urgency and enthusiasm. There still appears to be misunderstanding, deliberate or otherwise of the PNCR’s position on crime and I wish to repeat it for the benefit of those who have not heard and those who refuse to hear.

 We believe that the current security situation is so serious and so threatening to the existence of the state that it requires a national, non-partisan, consensual response at the highest level.
 We are convinced that there can be no improvement in the situation without a thorough and effective inquiry into the operations of the Police Force, which would take evidence and views from all competent persons, including the Force itself, and make recommendations for its strengthening and modernisation.
 We are convinced that such an inquiry should include in its ambit the conditions of service in the Force including pay, recruitment, promotion and training.
 We believe that the Police must take the urgent and necessary steps to restore public confidence, which is essential to its successful operation.
 We believe that the ‘Black Clothes’ must be disbanded and replaced by a properly trained professional and competent unit. Those in the squad who are guilty of crimes must be disciplined or prosecuted. Let their innocence or guilt be established by a properly constituted court of law in Guyana.
 We recommend the establishment of a professional and credible Public Relations Department.

PNC Reform
Congress Place, Sophia
Thursday October 17, 2002.