PRESS STATEMENT By The People’s National Congress Reform To The Press Conference, Thursday, April 22, 2004 Hall of Heroes, Congress Place, Sophia




SUMMARY:

• The second General Council Meeting, of the People’s National Congress Reform for the year 2004, will convene in the Auditorium at Congress Place, Sophia on Saturday 24th April 2004, at 10:00 hours.
• The PMJ’s plan to hold a second Rule of Law March, nevertheless, confirms that the majority of social and political groups as well as ordinary Guyanese understand the critical importance of these issues to the viability of Guyana as a civilized state.
• The experience with the delays in the preparation for the Local Government Elections should put us on guard that preparation for the next General Elections must also commence immediately and simultaneous with Local Government Election preparation.
• Gajraj’s “ballistic” outburst in Parliament must be carefully examined by the Guyanese Public as it amounted to a full confession.
• The PNCR and its Leader have written to the Commissioner of Police wishing their Annual Police Officers Conference every success and expressing the hope that the Conference contributes in a significant way to the improvement in the quality of policing in Guyana.

GENERAL COUNCIL MEETING

The second General Council Meeting, of the People’s National Congress Reform for the year 2004, (the year of the 14th Biennial Congress of the Party) will convene in the Auditorium at Congress Place, Sophia on Saturday 24th April 2004, at 10:00 hours.

The members of General Council will, as usual, come from every party organ and agency across the ten (10) Regions of Guyana to be actively involved in the quarterly review of the Party’s programme of activities and the planning of future programmes.

High on the agenda of the meeting would be consideration of the issues raised in the Leader’s March 31st, Address to the Nation, which clearly adumbrates the way forward for the Party and the Nation in the immediate period ahead. The practical involvement of the Party’s membership, in promoting the concepts and decisions of the leadership as expressed in the Leader’s Address will be discussed with a view to securing agreement on the most appropriate mechanisms to be used by each Region in the process.

Another important agenda item will be Local Government Reform. The work of the Joint Task Force on Local Government Reform will be reviewed and a panel discussion will afford members of General Council an opportunity to become acquainted with the recommendations of the Joint Task Force and to clarify issues of concern.

Since some issues like the Electoral System, the Revenue Sharing mechanism and the Local Government Commission are still to be settled, it is anticipated that discussions on this subject at this General Council will be incomplete.

The eagerly anticipated launching of the Sophia Sports Centre will, weather permitting, take place during this General Council with the staging of three (3) invitational football matches. This project is intended to fulfill a long felt need for a first class sports facility in the Sophia area and the Party decided to make available a portion of its land for this purpose. It is proposed to develop the facility, with the support of Guyanese at home and abroad, to accommodate a variety of sports disciplines including cricket, football, athletics and cycling, basketball, volleyball, lawn tennis etc.,. The People’s National Congress Reform is indeed pleased to be associated with this project and wishes its directors the best of luck in their endeavour to make it, eventually, second to none in Guyana.

RULE OF LAW MARCH II - THE SECOND WAVE

On Friday 23rd April, the PNCR will be participating in the Rule of law March - Part II, organized by the People’s Movement for Justice (the PMJ). The PNCR has no hesitation in joining forces again with other social and political organizations to protest against the collapse of the rule of law in Guyana and, more specifically, against the PPP/C’s intransigence in the face of widespread demands for an independent investigation into the Gajraj Affair.

The holding of this march, just one month after the first Rule of Law march, abundantly demonstrates the determination of the Guyanese people to take their country back from the brink of disaster – a disaster brought about by a government that is not merely incompetent and corrupt, but one which is morally bankrupt. Indeed, the PNCR is utterly convinced that if the issues of state-sponsored death squads and the general breakdown in the rule of law are not properly dealt with, Guyana cannot hope to progress. But worse, the country will descend into a wild and lawless land where no one is safe. If the widespread suspicions surrounding the recent kidnapping and disappearance of the Iranian cleric prove to be true, then the dire warnings of the PNCR and other right-thinking Guyanese that the emergence of death squads in Guyana threatens the lives of the businessman, the trade unionist, the farmer, the policeman, the judge, the journalist and, in fact, of any ordinary citizen will be realized.

Some in civil society have failed to grasp the full implications of the Gajraj Affair. They believe that the recent spate of state-sponsored contract killings is a limited and transient phenomenon, that was intended to serve some good social cause. They advise that it should be business as usual in Guyana. The PNCR can only hope they come to their senses quickly, and not through the hard and painful way.

The PMJ’s plan to hold a second Rule of Law March, nevertheless, confirms that the majority of social and political groups as well as ordinary Guyanese understand the critical importance of these issues to the viability of Guyana as a civilized state. The PNCR will continue to keep the pressure on.

We invite all Guyanese to take part in the Rule of Law March II– the Second Wave.

LOCAL GOVERNMENT ELECTIONS

We believe that, because of limited coverage of our previous statements on the issue by the local media, the PNCR’s position with regard to local government elections is not fully understood by the general public. We therefore reiterate our position. We wish to advise the media houses that the matter is too important to be treated casually.

The PNCR continues to maintain that elections can only be held after all the reforms to the local government system are in place. These reforms include

(i) the establishment of the constitutionally-mandated Local Government Commission as an independent and robust institution;

(ii) the settlement and implementation of the formula for fiscal transfers to the Regional Democratic Councils and other Local Government Organs. Such a formula should prevent the abomination where government deliberately denies Region #4 approximately 80% of its annual budgetary request;

(iii) the settlement of the a new electoral system and the passage of legislation to implement the system.

In addition, the PNCR has emphasized that

(i) our well-documented concerns over the integrity and security of the GECOM database must be addressed to the satisfaction of all stake holders. This is a pre requisite for both local Government and General Elections;

(ii) ample time exists to move ahead with all these issues in a satisfactory manner, but the government must show by its actions and not by its statements to the media, that it is serious about fulfilling its obligations. The actions by the Government so far have been in bad faith and hypocritical. For example, the Chairman of the Elections Commission has already stated in writing that the Commission cannot hold Local Government elections this year because the system has not yet been settled. Assuming that the laws establishing the new Local Government System are expeditiously settled, the earliest time for such elections is May 2005. Consequently for Jagdeo and the PPP/C to continue misleading the Nation on this matter is nothing short of irresponsibility. No doubt they will later try to find scapegoats for the delay in these elections.

This PNCR also wishes to remind the nation that the system used for the last General and Regional Elections should have benefited from Constitutional review to determine whether this system will be continued. This task should be undertaken by the Constitutional Reform/Review Committee of the Parliament. However, this Committee is yet to commence its work because, despite the Constitution is clear on this matter, the PPP/C continues to object to non- Parliamentarians participating in the work of the Committee. This Parliamentary Committee, which is the only one in which the Constitution provides for the Participation of non-parliamentarians, also provides a proper forum to deliberate on the many proposals advanced for shared/ inclusive Governance. Should this approach be adopted the issues can be resolved before the next General Elections, but only if the parties are serious about this matter. The experience with the delays in the preparation for the Local Government Elections should put us on guard that preparation for the next General Elections must also commence immediately and simultaneously with Local Government Election preparation. This issue is of extreme importance because the PNCR will not be open to any suggestion that national elections should also be delayed because of the delay in holding local government elections.

GAJRAJ RUNS AMOK IN PARLIAMENT

On Thursday, April 15, 2004, Ronald Gajraj, whilst pretending to make a presentation on the 2004 Budget, took the coward’s approach and threw a tantrum against the press, and political and civil society leaders for demanding an investigation in his alleged involvement in the abduction and murder of innocent Guyanese. It is passing strange that on two previous occasions the Speaker denied attempts by the Leader of the Parliamentary Opposition to have the “Gajraj Affair” debated in the National Assembly. Yet, Gajraj was allowed to use the Budget debate to discuss this matter and in the process malign, abuse and accuse those who were not there in the same August body without being bridled or restrained. It is passing strange that the same rules and procedures, which denied Mr. Robert Corbin the right to speak, permitted Gajraj to use the Parliament to tell people about their mothers. It is passing strange that Gajraj has the effrontery to speak in the forum where he knows he is protected from being sued instead of facing the nation like a man and atone for his sins.

Gajraj’s “ballistic” outburst in Parliament must be carefully examined by the Guyanese Public as it amounted to a full confession. However, some serious misrepresentation was made. For example, Gajraj informed the Parliament that he has always been upright and has operated within the confines of the law and all that he had done was intended to protect the lives of the people of Guyana and if the opportunity arose again, he would do it all over. The nation could not be deceived or fooled by this impassioned speech which saw him rearing and frothing like a stallion because every citizen is aware that this “Dishonourable” gentlemen has been:

• Convicted of larceny and conduct unbecoming of a GDF officer;
• Incarcerated for a considerable period in the Camp Street jail; and,
• Dishonourably discharged from the Guyana Defence Force.

The nation is also aware of the serious allegations against this “Dishonourable gentleman” that he is or was:
• Involved since 1998 in the sale of firearm licenses, passports, naturalization certificates and work permits to all and sundry.
• Engaging in the use of assault weapons in areas adjoining the Linden/Soesdyke Highway.
• Disbursing firearm licenses at the rate of over 6,000 per year.
• Fingered in the Yohance Douglas execution.
• A close and good neighbour of Guyana’s most wanted criminals who lived just three doors away from his mansion.
• Humiliated by having his visas cancelled by two leading nations.
• Establishing known terrorist cells masquerading as Community Policing Groups on the East and West Coast of Demerara and Linden and arming them better than the underpaid and unprotected Police ranks.
• Known to have established the notorious “Gajraj Gang” to abduct, terrorize and kill citizens and anyone who dared to oppose his will including, businessmen and poor hapless people. Some members of the gang are presently charged for murder whilst another was silenced whilst in hospital.
• In intimate contact with killers at his home, office and by phone.
• Cursing the editors and reporters of the media about their mothers.

Gajraj, therefore, lacks the moral fiber to accuse anyone of any illegality and immorality. His ridiculous assertion about criminals having the phone number of the leader of the PNCR is not only hogwash, but a downright lie which the Leader of the PNCR dares him to repeat outside of the walls of Parliament. Mr. Robert Corbin’s phone numbers are 233-5747; 233-5835 and a well known cell Number. The PNCR calls on Gajraj to publish all the evidence he has showing those specific numbers in the possession of any criminal. He must also provide the name of the criminal, the offence committed by the said criminal, the date that the criminal was arrested with the said phone numbers and the date and time that the person was convicted of the alleged offence. If the PNCR Leader ever returns to the Parliament, his first task will be to have these odious remarks struck from the record which apparently the Honourable Speaker allowed to be entered uncensored. The PNCR Leader has no secret numbers and the PNCR numbers are all listed in the GT&T telephone directory for the benefit of the general public. But even if the telephone numbers of the PNCR Leader, which are listed in the GT&T directory, were to be found in the possession of anyone, what does that prove? Does Gajraj want to equate this with the official telephone records which revealed that he was speaking regularly with known felons? Such conclusions could only be the result of a demonic, warped and confused mind. The people of Guyana will not be fooled by this vain effort to shift the focus from the horrid picture of his bloody hands encrusted with the blood of the hundreds who have allegedly died by his instruction. Gajraj must go. His presence as part of the body politic of Guyana is cancerous and offensive to the nation. Ultimately, however, we hold Jagdeo accountable for the state of affairs of the nation

ANNUAL POLICE OFFICERS CONFERENCE

The Guyana Police Force commences its annual Conference today, Thursday, April 22, 2004. The PNCR regrets that it could not accept the invitation extended to its General Secretary and its Leader to participate at the opening session. It should be obvious to all that the PNCR considers it an insult to be invited to any event where Gajraj will be a principal actor. What a disgrace that President Jagdeo has the bald face to address the Police Conference in the presence of the now notorious Gajraj. What standard does he expect from the force with such a living example before them?

The PNCR and its Leader have, however, written to the Commissioner of Police wishing the Conference every success and expressing the hope that the Conference contributes in a significant way to the improvement in the quality of policing in Guyana. The Party has also requested that a delegation led by its Leader meets with the new Commissioner in the near future at a mutually convenient time.

The PNCR reiterates that unless there is an independent and impartial inquiry into the Gajraj affair by competent persons, including an international presence, Guyana will grind to a halt and our democracy will be dead.

People’s National Congress Reform
Congress Place, Sophia,
Georgetown, Guyana.
Thursday, April 22, 2004