PRESS STATEMENT By The People’s National Congress Reform To The Press Conference, Thursday May 8, 2003 Hall of Heroes, Congress Place, Sophia
THE CORBIN/JAGDEO CONSTRUCTIVE ENGAGEMENT: The PNCR in its Press Release Statement of May 6th 2003 had informed the Nation of the main features of the Communique signed betweeen its Leader, Mr. Robert H O Corbin and President Jagdeo. In that Statement we emphasised that, the signing of the Communique did not automatically solve the many political, economic and social problems of Guyana, that it did not automatically remove the crises which exist and that it would be a mistake for anyone to project the agreement as some miraculous restoration of democracy. The reality we pointed out was that the agreement provides an opportunity for all parties concerned about the future development of Guyana, to make renewed efforts to contribute positively to this process.
Now that the Comminiqué has been officially released and has been given wide publicity by the media, the entire Nation has an opportunity to read, not only the matters agreed, but to note the time lines set for their implementation. The PNCR urges every citizen to acquaint himself/herself of the all these matters so that as a people we can do whatever lies in our power to ensure their timely implementation.
The PNCR, therefore, looks forward to the early appointment of the Service Commissions so that these bodies can proceed with their constitutional mandates. We also look forward to the urgent appointment of Mr. Winston Felix as the new Commissioner of Police, a matter on which the previous Leader of the Opposition, Mr. H.D. Hoyte had agreed since April 2002 after he was consulted by the President but thereafter it was officially announced that Mr. Felix’s appointment would not be made until the 1st January, 2003. The alleged obstacles to his appointment are therefore now removed.
We are not unmindful of the sacrifices made by citizens, especially workers in the Public Service, the teaching Service and the Police Force, many of whom are our own supporters and members, during the period of the political impasse and the delayed appointment of the various Constitutional Service Commissions. Now that the hurdles have been overcome, we wish to thank them for their mature understanding and patience thereby ensuring a just and fair outcome in the struggle for parliamentary democracy and the implementation of provisions of our sacred Constitution. We hope that the provisions of the Communique have vindicated the principled position of the PNCR over the last 14 months and the determined efforts by our late Leader, Mr. Hugh Desmond Hoyte.
The PNCR will be using every opportunity to ensure that the Parliament and its Committees meet regularly to debate and discuss the several matters of national importance which are enshrined in the Comminiqué. As stated in our Press Release of May 6th, 2003 “The return of the PNCR to the National Assembly must not be interpreted as an indication that it intends to abandon or let up on its struggle for justice, fairplay and good governance”.
Accordingly, we begin today by reminding the authorities of our concern for the number of pending cases of extreme importance to the issues of good governance and the Rule of Law which have not yet been addressed, for example,
- The failure and or deliberate refusal of the Executive to appoint a Judge to wit, James Bovell Drakes, after recommendation by the competent authority, the then duly constituted Judicial Service Commission;
- The prolonged delay in the hearing of a Constitution of Motion on the Parliamentary status of Mr. Manzoor Nadir who was elected on a United Force List of Candidates but has vacated his seat in the parliamentary opposition and now sits as a Minister of the Government on the government benches thereby robbing the TUF of representation in the Parliament.
A detailed list of these matters will be made public by the PNCR in the very near future.
THIS BUXTON INITIATIVE OF THE PNCR LEADER:
On February 1, 2003, at the Square of the Revolution, the newly elected Leader of the PNCR, Mr. Robert H. O. Corbin, announced that he was pursuing an initiative to promote the active development of the Buxton Community to alleviate the serious unemployment situation, particularly among youth in that area. This initiative was born out of a conviction that the Late Leader of the PNCR was correct when he proposed a plan for the development of Buxton as a tangible solution to some of the problems which existed in that community rather than a military one that was being contemplated by the Administration at that time. Regrettably, Mr. Hoyte’s proposal was rudely rejected as blackmail before those who had pronounced on it had even had the opportunity to read and/or discuss the depth of his proposal. At that time he stated that if the proposal succeeded it could have been used as a model for other communities on the coast. We are confident that in the not too distant future he will be vidicated.
When Mr. Corbin announced his initiative, several concerned citizens and businesses had offered to make contributions in cash and within areas of their competence to assist in the project. Many lived up to their commtiments and the financial contributions have been placed into a Bank Account which now exists at the NBIC under the name Buxton Development Project, Account, No. 487-784-1. We now publicly encourage interested persons and organisations willing to make this project a reality to forward their cash contributions to this Account or directly to the PNCR in the Project’s name, all of which will be duly acknowledged.
Since the launch of this initiative, the PNCR mobilised a number of competent persons who after several visits to the village of Buxton and meetings with interested villagers, prepared a plan for the agricultural project to utilise the abandoned farmlands at the back of the village. The plan is now complete and some preparatory work, such as clearing the access dams and some farmlands has already been done. The PNCR Leader will shortly make the full details available but he has insisted that, since the exercise was not a publicity stunt or political gimmick no attempt must be made at vain publicity until the project has proceeded to the point where its obvious success would be evident to all.
While preparing this project it was realised that many people in the community needed immediate help and it was agreed to begin the initiative with a pilot project in the community to demonstrate what was possible. The villagers expressed an interest in a poultry project and the Leader entrusted the co-ordination of the project to Mr. Charles Corbin, who has reluctantly agreed to be present here today to give you some details of that success story. Indeed many of those who assisted and are still assisting wish no publicity but we express our thanks to all of them for their commitment to the development of our country.
As a result of this pilot project we can now confidently state that there is great validity to our often stated position that much more success will be achieved by non-law enforcement approaches to the problems in the community instead of the indiscriminate use of unlawful force.
“THE BUXTON CLEAN OUT INSTRUCTION”
Despite the formal response to our enquiry as to the meaning of the President’s statement about cleaning out Buxton rumours abound about an impending invasion of Buxton by units of the Police and the Army. We hope that this is a false rumor and that the military is not being goaded to engage in any act of genocide in that community. We hope that members of the Guyana Defence Force and the Guyana Police Force will acquaint themselves of the implications of the Laws of Guyana and International Law on this subject. Obedience to a lawful order to commit an unlawful act is no defence in the International Court for acts of genocide. Each person will be accountable and will have to answer for their individual acts.
The PNCR, while not opposed to legitimate police operations in the fight against crime, recognises that crime cannot be rooted out unless the root causes are tackled. That is why the Party launched its initiative to provide some amount of gainful employment for the thousands of young people who are unemployed and idle. We therefore hope that good sense will prevail.
THE PRAYER INITIATIVE BY THE RELIGIOUS COMMUNITY:
The PNCR has been informed of an initiative by some Evangelical Churches to hold a Week of Prayer culminating with a Prayer Rally in the village of Buxton. The PNCR commends the religious community on this initiative and lends its full support. We call upon all our members and peace loving Guyanese to join in support of this laudible effort to bring healing and reconciliation.
People’s National Congress Reform
Congress Place, Sophia,
May 8, 2003
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