PPP/C GOVERNMENT’S OBLIGATION TO REMOVE OBSTACLES TO REGISTRATION--PRESS STATEMENT Thursday 10 February 2011




SUMMARY:
• The PNCR extends condolences to the family and relatives of the late Party stalwarts, Mr. Gershom Oswald St. Pierre Henry and Ms. Hyacinth James who were laid to rest over the last week. The Party acknowledges their committed and dedicated work in the development of Guyana and particularly, the PNCR;
• Registration as an elector is the constitutional right of all Guyanese over eighteen years and the PPP/C Administration has an obligation to remove all obstacles preventing eligible Guyanese from being registered to vote in the forthcoming General and Regional Elections;
• The PNCR has served notice to GECOM that it will pay no credence to any arrangement made between that body and the purported Chairman of the unconstitutional Ethnic Relations Commission (ERC) with respect to the forthcoming General and Regional Elections;
• The need for full disclosure and the publication of a comprehensive document are essential with respect to the 90,000 Laptop Distribution project, which seems headed for another scandal of immense proportions;
• The alarming rate of road accidents and fatalities demonstrates the lack of comprehension of the Minister of Home Affairs when he asserted that there is no breakdown of Law and Order in Guyana;
• Plans are proceeding apace for the PNCR Special Congress scheduled for February 26, 2011 at which the Party will determine its Presidential Candidate for the forthcoming General and Regional Elections.

OBITUARIES: MESSAGE OF CONDOLENCE FOR GERSHOM OSWALD ST. PIERRE HENRY AND HYACINTH YVONNE JAMES

The People’s National Congress Reform wishes to record its deep sense of loss at the passing away of two of its stalwart members from the ancient county of Berbice, Mr. Gershom Oswald St. Pierre Henry and Ms. Hyacinth Yvonne James, whose deaths occurred on Sunday 30th and Monday 31st January 2011 respectively.

Mr. Gershom Oswald St. Pierre Henry was a founder member of the Party and a leading activist in the anti-colonial pre and post independence struggle for the liberation and decolonisation of the Guyanese masses. A teacher by vocation, he used his considerable talents and abilities to instill in his charges the virtues of hard work, sacrifice and compassion and in the process won for himself the undying love and deep respect of generations of his country men and women.

At a very moving funeral service attended by hundreds at his home village of No. 51 on the Corentyne, “Goro”, as he was familiarly and lovingly called, was fittingly eulogized by young and old, family, friends and neighbours, all whose lives he touched during his 85 plus years on planet Earth. In his tribute, the PNCR Leader described him as one of the foundation stones of the PNC who was there at the beginning and served with dedication and commitment, in season and out of season until his death. This stalwart who served as Head Teacher, farmer, cricketer and Councillor, and who was among the first batch of students at the Party’s Ideological Institute, will long be remembered for the fine example he set both within the Party, in his Community and in Guyana as a whole.

Ms. Hyacinth Yvonne James was an activist of the Party for a number of years. Her loyalty, dedication and devotion to the Party and, in particular, to her constituents resulted in her election as a Councillor of the New Amsterdam Municipality in 1994. She was elevated to the post of Deputy Mayor in August 2002 and served in that capacity until her death at the age of 84 years. During her period of service she Vice-Chaired the Finance Committee, Chaired the Market Committee and sat on several other Boards. The late Deputy Mayor was also a “life deacon” at the Mission Chapel Congregational Church where she served in several capacities.

The Leader, Central Executives and members of the PNCR express our condolences to the families, relatives and friends of the deceased and pray that they may be comforted at this their time of grief.

May their souls rest in peace!

PPP/C GOVERNMENT’S OBLIGATION TO REMOVE OBSTACLES TO REGISTRATION

The PNCR has written to the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), urging that Body to exercise its authority by insisting that the obstacles to Registration are removed speedily to facilitate the registration of voters during the Claims and Objections period, which will be of limited duration. The letter was considered necessary after a delegation from the PNCR, led by the General Secretary, Mr. Oscar Clarke, met with the Chairman and Commissioners of GECOM, on 7th February 2011, to discuss matters of concern following the conclusion of the Continuous Registration process. At that meeting, several matters of mutual interest were discussed, among them, the difficulty faced by some eligible persons in being registered because of their inability to obtain, in a timely manner, the relevant source documents such as Birth and Marriage Certificates from the General Registrar’s Office.

After consideration of the report of that meeting, however, the Central Executive Committee considered it necessary to bring to the attention of the Commissioners of GECOM its continued concern over the lack of progress in this matter, particularly, the apparent indifference of the Government to implementing corrective measures to remedy this situation.

The PNCR appreciates the concerns expressed by the Chairman and other members of GECOM on this matter and the efforts reportedly made so far to encourage the Administration to implement procedures to remove this difficulty. GECOM, however, cannot abdicate its overall responsibility for the conduct of free, fair and transparent elections. The inability of eligible persons to register affects their constitutional right to participate in the decision making process of the State and cannot be dismissed as trivial. Both Government and GECOM have a duty to ensure that all steps are taken to have all eligible Guyanese registered and thereby eligible to vote in the General, Regional and Local Government Elections.

On Thursday 14th June 2007, the Government of Guyana, the Parliamentary Political Parties and the Guyana Elections Commission signed an Agreement, “on the preparation of a new National Register of Registrants by House-to-House Registration prior to the holding of Local Government and all future Elections.” This Agreement was signed by Ms. Gail Texiera on behalf of the Government of Guyana (GOG), Mr. Donald Ramotar on behalf of the Peoples Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C), Mr. Robert Corbin on behalf of the Peoples National Congress Reform-One Guyana (PNCR-1G), Mr. Khemraj Ramjattan on behalf of the Alliance for Change (AFC), Mr. Everall Franklyn on behalf of Guyana Action Party- Rise Organise and Rebuild (GAP/ROAR) and by a representative of the United Force (TUF), in the presence of Mr. Mansoor Nadir, who represented himself at that meeting as the Leader of the TUF. The signing of this Agreement was done in the presence of Ambassadors and Diplomatic Representatives in Guyana who were invited by President Jagdeo for that “historic” event. They included representatives from the UK, Canada, the European Union and the USA.

This Agreement, which made way for the New Registration, provided, inter alia, for the Parties to honour certain obligations. Among them that,

“All of the abovementioned Parties agree that the procedure of Continuous Registration will, thereafter, be used by the Guyana Elections Commission to update the NRR, on an ongoing basis, to ensure that a Voters List could be readily extracted for the holding of future elections.”

The Government of Guyana also undertook certain obligations, to wit,

“The Government of Guyana undertakes to ensure that there are no financial, administrative, legal or institutional impediments for the implementation of the above arrangements …..”

It follows that the Government has an obligation to ensure that any administrative, legal or institutional impediment to the registration of eligible persons is removed. Many stakeholders, including the PNCR, have been making representation to the Government over the past two years for special arrangements to be put in place at the General Registrar’s Office to remove the bottlenecks being experienced by persons in obtaining their source documents. The PNCR had also urged the establishment of a special unit to expedite the processing of applications. The Party is aware that Officials of GECOM met with the Minister of Home Affairs and representatives of the General Registrar’s Office on this matter. Regrettably, the Minister of Home Affairs, Mr. Clement Rohee, refused to accept a proposal from GECOM to set up a special project unit that would have been financed externally, to expedite the preparation and issuance of Birth Certificates and other source documents, during the recent House-to-House Registration Exercise.

This behaviour by the Government is still inexplicable, because, despite the numerous undertakings, many Guyanese continue to experience difficulty in completing their registration. At the close of the first period of House-to-House Registration, GECOM reported that it had a list of more than thirty thousand (30,000) such persons who were willing, but could not complete their Registration. During the recent Continuous Registration Period, the same problems persisted with the result that there are still persons who have been unable to receive their source documents to complete their registration. Now that the Continuous Registration is closed, the only available opportunity for eligible persons to register on the Voters List will be during the Claims and Objections period, after the publication of the Preliminary List of Electors. This is usually a short period of between two to three weeks. If the obstacles are not removed urgently, then those persons who have been unable to register so far may face the prospect of being denied their constitutional right.

It is in this context that the PNCR has urged GECOM to exercise its authority and insist that the obstacles to Registration are removed speedily to facilitate the registration of voters. It is still mind boggling why the PPP/C Administration should be so resistant to implementing corrective measures.

The PNCR, therefore, places the Government on notice that such attempts to frustrate citizens’ rights to vote would be counterproductive and will not succeed.

BISHOP JUAN EDGHILL MUST STAY CLEAR OF ELECTION MATTERS

The national newspapers have recently reported on an encounter by Mr. Juan Edghill with GECOM, seeking to be involved in matters relating to the forthcoming General and Regional Elections. The PNCR has, therefore, written to GECOM expressing its concern over the involvement of the purported Chairman of the Ethnic Relations Commission, allegedly, on behalf of the ERC.

The position of the PNCR, on the ERC, was made public more than two years ago and has been regularly repeated. The concerns of the Party were effectively stated in the National Assembly of the Parliament, since 2007, when the PPP, in clear violation of the Constitution, used its majority to pass Resolution #36, entitled “Appointment of Members of the Ethnic Relations Commission”, dated 9 August 2007, which stated, inter alia, “That the National Assembly calls on the President to take such steps so as to enable the Ethnic Relations Commission to continue to carry out its constitutional responsibilities in the interim.”

The Opposition members voted against this resolution, which was in contravention of the provisions of Articles 212B (1) (a) and (b), of the Constitution, that confers no such authority to the President. Article 212B specifies, inter alia, that the ERC shall consist of,

“(a) not less than five and not more than fifteen members nominated by entities, by a consensual mechanism determined by the National Assembly, including entities, representative of religious bodies, the labour movement, the private business sector, youth and women, after the entities are determined by the votes of not less than two- thirds of all elected members of the National Assembly;”

Both the life of the Commission and the tenure of the Office of the Chairman came to an end in 2007. In its Press Statement, of Friday 16th November 2007, the PNCR stated that:

“This procedure (identified in the motion dated August 9, 2007) was transparently unconstitutional, since the Constitution does not confer any such authority on the President.
The PNCR wishes to make it clear that the ERC is a Constitutional body which is governed by Article 212B, which states clearly how the ERC is to be constituted and which Groups of Entities should be invited to elect a substantive and alternate representative for appointment to the Commission. The only Constitutional role for the President, in the above process, is to appoint the elected Commissioners............
In light of the foregoing, the PNCR wishes to make it clear that the ERC, as presently constituted, is illegal and would not be recognized by the Party.”

Mr. Juan Edghill, obviously out of self interest, has both facilitated and publicly defended this unconstitutionality. The public needs to be also advised that most of the original representatives and their alternates on the seven-member ERC have, for varying reasons, ceased to be active members of the Commission, placing in doubt the legitimacy of purported decisions of the now dwindled three-person Commission, even if, as argued by its Chairman, the body is constitutional.

The appointment by President Jagdeo, in violation of the Constitution, makes Mr. Juan Edghill, a creature of the President, and not the Constitution, thus placing his impartiality in doubt. It is, therefore, the considered view of the PNCR that the Chairman is no more than a useful poodle of the Administration and an extension of the PPP. In this context, the PNCR will lend no credence to any arrangement entered into between the purported Chairman of that Body and GECOM as it relates to the forthcoming Elections, until that body is duly constituted in accordance with Article 212 B of the Guyana Constitution.

Regrettably, after six years, the PNCR’s Court action, challenging the constitutionality of the Integrity Commission, has not yet been heard by the High Court, thus providing no confidence that a similar action, with respect to the Ethnic Relations Commission, would ever be heard in the High Courts of Guyana.

The PNCR, however, places its position on record, since, there is universal acceptance that stakeholder confidence in all arrangements by GECOM is essential for the smooth conduct of the forthcoming General and Regional Elections.

THE LAPTOP PROJECT: A DEVELOPING SCANDAL

With every passing day, the PPP/C Administration’s contempt for the people of Guyana reaches new heights. The most recent example is the much touted and propagandised distribution of ninety thousand (90,000) free Laptops in Guyana.

No one can deny the benefits of accelerating education in the IT Sector and making all Guyanese computer literate, but the first major question is why should such a Government project be placed under the Office of the President for execution, rather than the Ministry of Education or the Ministry responsible for Training, i.e., the Public Service Ministry.

Second, the Government has studiously avoided the circulation of a detailed project document providing information on the method of procurement, as well as, the rules, guidelines and method of distribution of the laptops over the project period. Consequently, despite the budgetary allocation of $1.8 Billion, there is no way that the progress of the project can be monitored, thus leaving room for mismanagement, corruption and political manipulation in an election year.

In her Budget presentation, on Monday 21st January 2011, PNCR Shadow Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs, Ms. Volda Lawrence, M.P., raised several issue regarding this project which the Government has, to date, failed to address. She emphasised that,

“There is need and will continue to be the need for transparency and accountability in these matters. For example, over the last week-end we have heard of the launch of the 90,000. lap top project. Where is the document that would inform how this project would be implemented? What criteria would be used for the phased distribution and who would determine it? What is the cost of each of these computers and was there a competitive bid? Mr. Speaker, I believe that the Government owes this House an obligation to bring a document so that this House is properly informed of this project so that it can be monitored to ensure that it is not used for political purposes in this election year.”

Needless to say, after nine days of Budget Debate and consideration of detailed allocations in the Committee of Supply, the Government remained intransigent and could not be moved to present adequate information to the highest forum of the land. When Minister Jennifer Webster was finally obligated to provide an explanation on the cost of a laptop, even that information, as the nation was soon to find out, was grossly inaccurate. Was this a misstep by the Minister, or was it a revelation that no one other than President Jagdeo and his cohorts have control over the activities associated with this project?

In this context, Kaieteur News and its reporters should be commended for their investigative journalism that has so far exposed the lack of transparency, hypocrisy and blatant lies that have become routine for the PPP/C Administration. It is obvious that there has been a conspiracy to conceal relevant information that is not the preserve of the PPP, but concerns all citizens, particularly the taxpayers of our country. The Government will eventually be brought to account for their misdeeds, but that is neither enough at this time to prevent possible discrimination in the manner the project is implemented, nor to prevent the occurrence of corrupt behaviour that has become endemic in the PPP/C Administration.

It is obvious that President Jagdeo is unmindful of his legacy, even after an unflattering analysis of his period in Office, published recently by the Council of Hemispheric Co-operation, under the caption, “Guyanese President Leaves a Tattered Legacy”.

According to that analysis,
“Stagnation, violence, corruption, arch-sectarianism, and unfettered crime — this is the heritage that President Bharrat Jagdeo will bequeath to his country. Now that Jagdeo has announced that he will not seek a third term in the upcoming August election, he may well ask, as a New York mayor once did, “How did I do?” The answer, in this instance, must be: “terribly.”
Chosen by former President Janet Jagan to succeed her in office, and supposedly held in high esteem by Guyana’s founding father, the illustrious Cheddi Jagan, Jagdeo could only receive the lowest of marks from any independent evaluation. Through his tolerance of crime, racism, and dismal social progress, President Jagdeo has turned in a fifth-rate performance as president of one of the poorest countries in the hemisphere. As the Guyanese use every strategy, legal and illegal, to flee the dysfunctional country, Jagdeo will go down in history as a man who did almost nothing for his nation while in office.”

In his last year in office, the President has squandered another opportunity to begin his redemption. He has been unable to resist the temptation to continue his micro management, and assume direct control, as though the Government was his personal fiefdom.

The need for full disclosure and the publication of a comprehensive document are essential as the 90,000 Laptop Distribution project seems headed for another scandal of immense proportions

THE ALARMING RATE OF DEATHS CAUSED BY ROAD FATALITIES IN OUR LAND UNFORTUNATELY CONTINUES

The continued alarming rate of deaths and injuries caused by road accidents is troubling and distressing to the People’s National Congress Reform as it should be for all Guyanese. The most recent disturbing incident is that of the Sunday 6th February 2011 road fatality which took the lives of Jermaine Frank and Raymond Ally, when their vehicle ended up in a canal on the East Bank of Demerara. Just over twenty four hours later, as a result of another road accident, Errol Gonsalves became another road fatality. Newspaper reports of traffic accidents confirm that the situation is deteriorating with seventeen road fatalities since the beginning of this year 2011. It is further disturbing when it is discovered that many of these accidents are caused through speeding or driving under the influence of alcohol.

On Friday 29th October 2010 a Corentyne road accident left twelve dead including, a baby and five persons injured. At the scene of that accident, bodies were pulled from trenches while persons who had rushed to the scene, discovered that limbs and other body parts were scattered on the road. The PNCR noted that several Government Officials including Health Minister Dr. Leslie Ramsammy had rushed to the area, allegedly to give assistance. While this may have been commendable, the PNCR believes that such actions are no substitute for sound policies and programmes to address the problem. Much more needs to be done by the Traffic Department to prevent such horrors on our roads.

The Party reiterates its numerous calls for the Government, the Minister of Home Affairs, the Commissioner of Police and the Traffic Chief to urgently prepare and implement a sustainable programme to strengthen the capabilities and capacity of the Police Traffic Department to enforce the laws to prevent the escalating loss of lives through avoidable road accidents. The PNCR believes that the public awareness programme should be intensified immediately to reduce lawlessness on our roads, protect our children and save lives. Special programmes should also be put in place for Traffic Police Officers to ensure adequate enforcement of the traffic laws and to reduce the road-side Courts.

It is in this context that the PNCR continues to call for training, better equipment and improved wages and salaries for our policemen and women whose mandate should be to “serve and protect”, and not “exploit and destroy” as is often the case in Guyana.

During the recent 2011 Budget Debate in the National Assembly on Monday 31st January, Home Affairs Minister, Mr. Clement Rohee, in attempting to defend his sloppily managed Security Sector, shouted that there was no breakdown of Law and Order in Guyana. Is Minister Rohee suggesting that the prevalence of road accidents and the continued road carnage is not a sign of the breakdown in the enforcement of our traffic laws in Guyana? Should this state be considered normal?

Perhaps the Minister himself may benefit from a seminar which would advise him that the alarming rate of road accidents and fatalities is in large measure due to a breakdown of traffic laws enforcement. The PNCR, therefore, calls on the Minister of Home Affairs, to take note of the urgent need to strengthen the Traffic Department of the Guyana Police Force and to institute a compulsory on-going programme of Traffic Education for all Guyanese.

PNCR SPECIAL CONGRESS ON 26 FEBRUARY 2011

Plans are proceeding apace for the PNCR Special Congress, scheduled for Saturday 26th February 2011 at which the Party will determine its Presidential Candidate for the forthcoming General and Regional Elections. Delegates and Observers from the ten local Party Regions as well as from the North America and UK Regions will participate in the deliberations of the highest decision making forum of the Party.

The various sub-committees responsible for managing the various activities of the Congress, including the Accreditation of Delegates, have been approved by the Central Executive Committee and have been engaged in the task of making the Congress a success. At this time, the Secretariat is awaiting the submission of Delegates and Observers from the various groups. The Party will shortly hold a special press briefing on the arrangements for this Congress where the media will have an opportunity to have all their questions about the Congress answered.

Over the past week, the Party has had cause to respond, in its Kaieteur News Weekly Column, to the wicked and vulgar abuse by the PPP of the State Media, NCN and the Guyana Chronicle, which sought to publish false information about the status of the PNCR Presidential Nomination process and its nominees. With what moral authority, therefore, could the Office of the President believe that it could scold the private media about professional standards of journalism?

In that column, the PNCR Candidate Process Committee categorically stated that the information published as News by the NCN was a total fabrication and had no bearing on truth. They asserted that the process approved by the Party for identification of a Presidential candidate is alive and well, as the programme of Town Hall meetings continues across the country. The wide participation of Guyanese at these meetings, clearly illustrate that citizens are motivated by this primary process introduced by the PNCR.

To date, meetings have been held at Queenstown, Essequibo; Corriverton and Manchester in Corentyne, Berbice; Hopetown and Calcutta in Region Five, Mahaica/Berbice; Supply, East Bank Demerara and St. Georges High School, Georgetown, in Region Four; Bartica in Region Seven; Linden in Region Ten; and Lethem, Rupununi, Region 9. Last evening, Wednesday 9 February 2011, another well attended meeting was held in New Amsterdam, Berbice, while another will be held in Georgetown, on 12th February 2011, at the North Ruimveldt Multilateral School. Acting on suggestions from the Presidential nominees, the CEC may authorise the holding of a few additional Town Hall meetings before the Party Special Congress, on Saturday 26 February 2011.

There can be no doubt that democracy is alive and well in the PNCR as its history making primary illustrates. It is not for the PNCR to comment on the process employed by other parties to identify their Presidential Candidate. We believe it is the right of members of a Party to determine their internal affairs.

The PNCR, however, condemns this newest attempt by the PPP to use their monopoly of the State Media to engage in public mischief and interfere in the internal democratic processes of the Party. The PNCR members are much more enlightened, however, and will not be confused by PPP propaganda.

It should be evident to all that, the refusal of the PPP dictatorship to pass Broadcast Legislation seven years after a written commitment with the PNCR to do so, confirms their desire to continue the abuse of the State Media for partisan political propaganda.

People’s National Congress Reform
Congress Place, Sophia
Georgetown, Guyana
Thursday 10 February 2011

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