PRESS STATEMENT By the People’s National Congress Reform To the Press Conference on Thursday October 31, 2002 Hall of Heroes, Congress Place, Sophia.

* Who’s in charge? The Government or the drug gangs?
* Where was the invisible Mr. Gajraj?
* Guyanese being strangled by the upward spiraling cost of living.
* Jagdeo continues his campaign of lies.

All of the recent crime and public security developments have confirmed what the PNCR has been saying for some time (see Press Statement of January 6th, 1999) without the Government seeming to be hearing or understanding our proposals. Instead of the regime acting expeditiously to address our constructive proposals, they have sought to distort, misrepresent and vilify them. The PPP/C’s folly, corruption, ineptitude and incompetence has now imposed on this long-suffering nation the very stark and frightening reality, meekly admitted by the acting Commissioner of Police and Dr Roger Luncheon, of “… the criminal gangs and the drug cartels operating…” and being evidently in control of the crime and security situation.
It is now a national imperative that Freedom House and Mr Jagdeo should admit to the nation that their complicity and studied inactivity is solely responsible for getting the country into this sorry mess. They must accept their culpability and act immediately on the PNCR’s proposals which are here repeated for their benefit.

 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.

As the spate of killings continue, the PNCR again warns of the dangers inherent in our law enforcing agency, the Police Force, being perceived as judge, jury and executioner and thereby further alienating public support. Whether as a “Bystander killed in crossfire” (Stabroek News, Wednesday October 30th, 2002), or Father of five believed killed in mistake for “Inspector Gadget” (Guyana Chronicle Wednesday October 30th, 2002), Ramdial Dasai was as much a victim as was the so-called wanted man, Melroy Goodman.
We call on the authorities to fully investigate the circumstances which led to the death of these two men and trust that an early coroner’s inquest would be ordered. In the meantime, we express our sympathy to the families of the victims.
The PNCR has publicly welcomed the initiative by the Social Partners and the recognition that the very dangerous national crime and security situation can only be effectively resolved within the holistic framework of resolving the issues of good governance. The PNCR pledges its commitment and full support for their efforts, which must be pursued in the context of the recognition by all parties of the seriousness of this matter and the need for urgency in arriving at a national consensus on the way forward.

The residents of Georgetown were rudely awakened in the early hours of Monday (2002 October 28) morning by a series of intense gun battles by “…rival criminal and drug gangs….”. All of this was taking place literally on the doorsteps of the Minister of Home Affairs who had become strangely invisible and silent.
It was left to the hapless acting Commissioner Macdonald to call a Press Conference to admit that he and the Guyana Police Force were not in control of what was unfolding as the open and very public display of the weaponry and effrontery of the rival gangs and out-of-control elements of the GPF.
The shamelessness of the incompetent Mr Gajraj was amply demonstrated by his public appearance, almost 24 hours after the Guyanese People witnessed the brazenness of the drug gangs, to attack the media for misrepresenting his absence from public view.

Does Mr Gajraj know that he is responsible for public safety and internal security?

We expect Mr Gajraj to take the only decent course available to him and resign forthwith.

The Government must immediately appoint Mr Winston Felix as the substantive Commissioner of Police and relieve the GPF and Mr. Macdonald of the cross they have had to carry under the weight of Mr Gajraj.

The Commissioner of Police must be unfettered by political interference and manipulation in the discharge of his constitutional mandate for the management of the Guyana Police Force.

As if the crime and security crisis is not enough sufferings, the People are facing, as the direct consequence of the failures of the Jagdeo regime, the continuous upward spiralling of the cost-of- living (and dying!).
Water rates, GPL electricity charges, petroleum fuel prices, the prices of basic grocery items, etc. are strangling the life out of Guyanese. It is not surprising to anyone, except the Government and its mouthpieces that the levels and extent of absolute poverty is growing in Guyana.

Those who say that PPP = Plenty Poor People are increasingly being seen as prophetic.

We have all been entertained by the antics of Mr. Samuel Hinds who believes that he is pulling the wool over our eyes by his writing to complain to GPL that they are not honouring their contractual and moral obligations to the Guyanese consumers of electricity. We all know that Mr Hinds is simply going through the motions in the hope of appeasing public anger and resentment for the GPL quagmire he has placed us all in. We are not fooled Mr Hinds!

The Guyanese people have come to the realisation that they are being fed on a diet of lies and deception by Freedom House and the Jagdeo regime. Unfortunately, they have also come to recognise that the PPP/C regime does not understand what good faith means. How sad!
The apparently compulsive liar, Mr Jagdeo, continues to harbour the illusion that he is fooling the people by spewing his lies, eg. His claim that the PNCR rebuffed Sir Paul Reeves. Fortunately, the Guyanese public and Sir Paul Reeves know that this is far from the truth.
The Guyanese people are not easily fooled. The public was able to see and hear for themselves his well publicised tirade against the PNCR and its Leadership at the time when he knew that Sir Paul Reeves would be meeting with the PNCR.
It is obvious to all that Mr. Jagdeo has set out to derail the very process which he was responsible for initiating. It was he, not the PNCR that begged the Commonwealth Secretary General to send someone of the calibre of Sir Paul Reeves to assist him to stimulate conditions for the resumption of the Dialogue. His hard-line bosses in Freedom House have evidently prevailed on him to derail his own efforts.
Mr. Jagdeo, like Mr Gajraj, has demonstrated his unsuitability for the office of President of this Republic. How long has the nation got to wait for him to perform at least one act of patriotism?
He must resign!

People’s National Congress Reform
Congress Place, Sophia.
Thursday October 31, 2002