ADDRESS TO THE NATION BY HON. ROBERT H. O. CORBIN, M.P. LEADER OF THE PEOPLE'S NATIONAL CONGRESS REFORM LEADER OF THE PARLIAMENTARY OPPOSITION WEDNESDAY, APRIL 26, 2006
Dear Fellow Guyanese: No one will disagree that we are in troubled and troubling times in our beloved country.
The recent slaying of a Sitting Minister of Government together with three others reinforces this view. Whatever the motive behind this dastardly act, there can be no doubt that our country is now faced with a monster that seeks to devour us all. This latest incident is in effect a chilling message to the state, the government, political parties, religious and civil society organizations and all the people Guyana, regardless of their political persuasions. Those who believe that any section of this society is safe are suffering from a serious delusion.
Since early last Saturday morning, when I first telephoned President Jagdeo to convey my condolences and concern over the killing of Minister Sawh, I have given much thought to the position that the People’s National Congress Reform and I, as Leader of that Party, must take at this difficult moment in our history.
That Saturday, hours after the massacre, I sent a letter off to President Jagdeo which was received at State House on the said day at around 2:00pm. The letter stated as follows:
“Dear President Jagdeo,
“It was with a sense of profound shock that I learnt of the killing of the Minister of Agriculture (ag) Fisheries, Other Crops and Livestock, Mr. Satyadeow Sawh, his brother, sister-in-law and security guard.
[WE LATER LEARNT THAT IT WAS THE MINISTER’S SISTER”
I wish to reiterate what I said in my telephone call to you early this morning, that is, my own and my Party’s sincere condolence to the members of Mr. Sawh’s family, to you, Members of the Government and the People’s Progressive Pary/Civic for this tragic loss.
“The slaying of Minister Sawh has created conditions that are fraught with danger and has the potential for the creation of political instability which can threaten national security and the prospects for national cohesion.
In the circumstances, I propose that we meet as a matter of utmost urgency (within 24 hours) to discuss and agree a common approach for dealing with these and other national security concerns”.
With kind regards,
Our Party concluded, after a special emergency meeting of our Central Executive Committee on that very Saturday that we should reach out to the Government / ruling party, to the other political parties and to all the stakeholders in our society, without condition, to be an integral part of a process aimed at confronting our common enemy.
Subsequently, in a Press Release, issued at around mid-day on Saturday, April 22, 2006, the Party I have the honour to lead stated, inter alia, as follows:
“The People’s National Congress Reform unreservedly condemns this dastardly act. The killing of the Minister, in our prevailing circumstances, poses a severe challenge to this nation in political, social and security terms. The situation demands leadership, prudence, patience and responsibility to ensure that the national interest is promoted and protected”.
The release also said that:
“the People’s National Congress Reform reiterates its condemnation of violence of all forms and pledges to continue to work with all of the stakeholders within the society, including the Government, to design, craft and implement policies and programmes which can reduce and finally end this scourge…”
As I speak to you this evening there has been no response from the President of the Republic. In this context, I ask you to judge recent public statements. However, because of my own respect for the late Honourable Minister Sash Sawh, I would not be drawn into a public debate on remarks made during the period we should have been in mourning and paying tribute to him.
For us in the People’s National Congress Reform and for me as Leader of that Party and as Leader of the Opposition this is not a time for cheap politicking, hypocritical statements or reckless and inflammatory utterances but for sober and sane leadership to give citizens hope that the major political stakeholders are determined to act in concert to restore the security of this nation.
We must bring Guyana back to a position where mothers are not burdened daily by worry for the safety of their families, where business owners can open their doors without trepidation, where taxi drivers can ply their trade without fear of abduction or death, where farmers and traders can bring their produce to market without fear for their personal security and where all citizens can go about their daily lives in an environment of peace and security.
While the People’s National Congress Reform does not underestimate the enormity of the task, on its behalf I wish to publicly state that the Party believes that with a sincere effort of cooperation among all stakeholders we can succeed in overcoming the problems. In this regard we attempted two years ago without success, to have the President establish a Commission of Enquiry into the East Coast violence. President Jagdeo spoke then of establishing such a Commission, but nothing has been heard of it since. It is now more necessary than ever. You will recall that the Disciplined Forces Commission was established on the initiative of the PNCR. Its one hundred and sixty four recommendations are gathering dust.
I pledge publicly on behalf of the People’s National Congress Reform to work assiduously and unreservedly with other stakeholders towards the development of a genuine national strategy to confront the dangers that threaten to overwhelm us all.
As servants of the people we understand our obligation in this regard.
Recently, the Joint Opposition Parliamentary Parties hosted a forum on crime at which many views and suggestions were expressed. As stated then the PNCR stands ready to work for their implementation.
Many more and other fora have to be sponsored to provide opportunity for citizens’ views to be taken into account in the formulation of policy and operational responses to deal with the situation and we will work with all who share an interest in this approach.
We propose also to engage more intensely with religious leaders and non governmental organizations in dialogue on the mutually reinforcing role that we could play either together or in our respective organizations. In this regard we endorse the call made by Pastor Bowman, the head of the Seven Day Adventist Church in Guyana, for Sunday next, i.e. April 30, 2006 to be declared a national day of prayer. We have communicated our views to several religious organizations in Guyana and we propose to participate in / organize a /initiate an inter-faith religious ceremony to symbolize our appeal to the Almighty for divine intervention to help to rescue our nation.
PSALMS 46- 1, reminds us that, “GOD IS OUR REFUGE AND STRENGTH, A VERY PRESENT HELP IN TROUBLE.”
PROVERBS 14- 34: also states,
“RIGHTEOUSNESS EXALTETH A NATION: BUT SIN IS A REPROACH TO ANY PEOPLE.”
My message to this Nation this evening, therefore, is this: whatever, our various other preoccupations, whatever our differences, we must pause, reflect on our total national circumstance and act together. We must sit, all of us, together, in a reconciliatory environment that is driven by a common cause – the cause of the survival of this nation. I say we must act together now; not tomorrow, but today. In is in that spirit that my party and I are calling for an immediate retreat of the political leaders of this country at the very highest levels to sit together to discuss and find a way out of this emergency. I sincerely believe that if the leaders of this nation act together the spirit of the Nation will be lifted and light will shine through the darkness.
MAY GOD BLESS OUR DEAR NATION!
People's National Congress Reform
Congress Place, Sophia,
Wednesday, April 26, 2006
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