- By The People’s National Congress Reform
To The Press Conference
- On Wednesday, February 25, 2004
Congress Place, Sophia.
Over the past few days, we have observed some desperate maneuverings by Mr. Jagdeo and his government intended to give the false impression that there is a new and heightened crisis in relation to Guyana’s eastern border. There have been frantic attempts by the President to arrange meetings and consultations with me and a pathetic attempt to summon the Parliamentary Committee on Foreign Relations to be briefed by the President at his office. The best intelligence and advice available to our party on security and border matters is that there is no new crisis situation on the eastern border nor any difficulty which has not been in existence for many months or which calls for new and desperate measures. There has been an ongoing difficulty in relation to our eastern maritime boundaries and we are aware of the fact that over the last few months, measures have been taken to deal with the issues. Indeed, I, as the Leader of the Opposition, willingly attended a briefing session several months ago where certain approaches by the Government to the problem were explained. The decision on these matters was made several months ago.
This action now being taken by the President is in stark contrast to the attitude recently displayed by the Government in relation to our western borders. On careful examination, both the visit and the communiqué that was issued after the visit of the Venezuelan President may well prove to be a setback for Guyana in relation to its management of the western frontier and the border controversy. The interpretation put by the Venezuelan side to the recent talks suggest a serious infringement of our sovereignty over the Essequibo Region by appearing to give them veto powers and the right to be consulted on any major development in the region.
The PNCR supports all efforts to settle our maritime boundaries in accordance with international law. However in doing so, we should avoid being opportunistic in attempting to signal an escalation in the controversies on our eastern border as they may well have undesirable and dangerous repercussions. The government should therefore not look for international issues to distract the population from its embarrassment and disgrace brought about by the deepening crisis over the allegations of high crimes and misdemeanors on the part of its Minister of Home Affairs. It is puerile for the President of Guyana to endeavor to hoodwink the entire Nation and distract attention from the serious internal security dangers. It is also dangerous and a very disturbing development in the context of the serious danger which Guyanese face daily from State sponsored Death Squads.
The PNCR’s position on National Border security is well known. We have stated our position both publicly and at the appropriate forum. The President ought to know, however, that the PNCR and its Leader will not be duped by these puerile maneuvers. The Government has already failed miserably in the manner in which the genuine crisis with our eastern neighbour was handled in the recent past. Consequently, the PNCR remains focused on the very important security issue facing Guyana today. It is the failure of the President to take decisive action to establish an independent and impartial inquiry into the serious allegations that have been made about State sponsored death squads and the involvement of the Minister in this sordid affair.
We also wish to publicly and vehemently denounce the manner in which the President and his office have shown disrespect to the Parliament and its members. It appears that the President, having failed in his devious attempt to have a photo opportunity with the Leader of the opposition under the guise of consultation on a matter of national security, gave instructions to junior public officials to summon the Chairperson and members of the Parliamentary Committee on Foreign Relations to his office for a briefing. It should be clear even to this incompetent government that a meeting of a parliamentary committee should only be properly summoned through the Clerk of the National Assembly on advice from the Speaker or the Chairperson of that Committee. Secondly, the President has no authority to arbitrarily summon the members of any parliamentary sub committee to be lectured by him. The government has continued, despite the constitutional changes that have been made, to undermine the independence of the National Assembly in breach of the principle of the Separation of Powers between the legislative branch (Parliament) the Judiciary and executive branches of government. A stop must be put to this blatant disrespect and the usurpation of powers by the Office of the President. We will not sit idly by and permit them to do so.
This adventurism will not succeed in distracting the nation from its primary focus, the resignation of Ronald Gajraj from office and the mounting of a full and independent enquiry into the scandals and human rights violations perpetuated under his ministerial watch. It should be obvious to even the politically blind that there will be no compromise on this matter. These most recent actions by the President are further signals of the lack of integrity of this Administration, which requires an appropriate national response involving all citizens to ensure the Government understands the Nation’s revulsion at the sorry state in which they have plunged our country. There will not be business as usual.
People’s National Congress Reform
Congres Place, Sophia,
Wednesday, February 25, 2004