Letter: Trinidadians blamed for Guyanese political crisis

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Dear Sir:

The People’s National Congress (PNC)-led coalition government in Guyana has refused to resign after it was defeated in a no-confidence motion in Parliament on Friday December 21, 2018. As expected, the drowning party is grasping at straws to illegally survive another year before it sinks on its own in the 2020 general elections.

PNC executive member Aubrey Norton has accused People’s Progress Party (PPP) opposition leader Bharrat Jagdeo of bribing MP Charrandass Persaud to switch his no-confidence vote against his own government in favour of the PPP. Norton said Jagdeo had “colluded with forces in Trinidad and mobilised resources to bribe a sitting MP” (Guyana Chronicle 28/12/18). I would like to advise Jagdeo to sue Norton for defamation of character through slander and/or libel. Norton must be compelled to provide the evidence in court to support his accusation, or face conviction by imprisonment or fine.

It seems that Jagdeo has already been found guilty by Norton who appears to be an investigator, policeman, attorney, juror, judge and executioner, all rolled into one. Norton’s accusation is being repeated by several government ministers, including the minister of public security Khemraj Ramjattan. This AFC member of the collation government was on Guyana’s NCN TV on Sunday night turning darker with rage against Persaud.

Ramjattan turning darker with rage

Viewers were uncertain whether Ramjattan was speaking as a member of the coalition splinter Alliance for Change (AFC) or as minister of public security because these roles must be held separate and distinct when in public office. By his verbal and body language, Ramjattan was clearly abusing his power as minister of public security.

Here are excerpts of Ramjattan’s rant on TV: “We are now learning that there is absolutely a connection with bribery, of some big sum of money… This thing was organised beautifully. All that will come out of the investigation going on… We are going to go very far and deep into it and those who would’ve done that will pay the penalty. We’ve already been doing investigations with the senior members of the government.”

Alarming illegal threats indeed from a minister of public security. Ramjattan should be forced to resign on the basis that police work should be left to the commissioner of police, Leslie James, not the minister of public security whose duties should be purely administrative and managerial.

Those who wish to take Ramjattan to court to face charges for misbehaviour in public office should read the article “Governance of the Police: Independence, Accountability and Interference” by Philip C. Stenning. This article is based on a lecture delivered to the Law School at Flinders University in Australia in 2011. The article should be read with Ramjattan in mind who is attempting “to bring partisan political influence to bear on a police investigation… to harass political opponents or dissidents” like Charrandass Persad who has the civil and human rights of free association and freedom of expression.

Ramjattan’s unlawful interference in police work

Ramjattan has betrayed his promise that there will be “no political interference by the APNU+AFC government in the running of the Guyana Police Force.” Ramjattan made this promise personally to about 500 persons on Saturday September 5, 2015, at the Whim Community Centre Ground in Berbice. The unlawful interference with the work of the Guyana Police Force and the Police Service Commission (PSC) is not new to this coalition government. In October 18, 2017, President David Granger wrote to the PSC to halt the promotion of police officers.

Additionally, Ramjattan said on the same NCN TV show that on that historic night of the no-confidence motion in Parliament, he offered Persaud police protection to go to his vehicle to drive home. But Persaud was told by a friend that “the police would kill you rass. You better take we own” transportation.

As minister of public security, Ramjattan should be ashamed to learn and publicise the fact that Guyanese do not trust the Guyana Police Force and the Guyana Defence Force with their lives. As an Indo-Guyanese, Persaud had all the more reason to be afraid. Members of the coalition government such as Moses Nagamootoo, Dr Rupert Roopnaraine, Jaipaul Sharma and Hemraj Rajkumar, and their families, are more vulnerable than other citizens to be attacked by the PNC-led coalition trained and armed officers headed by retired brigadier, President David Granger.

The books The Costs of Regime Survival: Racial Mobilization, Elite Domination and Control of the State in Guyana and Trinidad by Percy Hintzen, Domination and Power in Guyana: Study of the Police in a Third World Context by George Danns, Anatomy of Race Politics by Reverend Seopaul Singh, and Ethnic Conflict and Development by Ralph Premdas as well as the GIHA Crime Report Indians Betrayed, should be compulsory reading for Ramjattan. These publications document the long history of violence against Indians in Guyana which was unleashed by the tyrannical president, Forbes Burnham.

Dr Kumar Mahabir

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