Statement by Her Excellency President Janet Jagan on the Escalation of Terrorism and Violence

January 5, 1998

Early this morning two explosive devices were thrown at the independent National Television Network (NTN) in Brickdam. In this cowardly and murderous attack on the media house, one of the explosives struck a security guard who is in a critical condition in the Intensive Care Unit of the Georgetown Hospital. At this moment 34-year-old Seudyal Singh is struggling for his life.

I have been informed that the Managing Director of the television station, Anand Persaud, and members of his family, who were targeted in the attack were not hurt, though there has been considerable damage to property.

My Government most vehemently deplores this latest terrorist attack aimed at assassinating an independent television operator for his defence of democracy and for exercising his right to freedom of expression.

It is clear to the entire Nation who is responsible for this escalation of terrorism and violence. On the eve of the attack the minority PNC has resorted to public incitement.

It is also clear that the PNC has embarked on a studied campaign to destabilise the society. This calculated plan, reminiscent of methods used in the 1960's, was enunciated by the PNC leader to "shut down" the country.

No such campaign of intimidation and terrorism will succeed. The people of Guyana want to work and live in peace. They want to enjoy the fruits of democracy, not the poison of political revenge and chaos.

Our entire society must now show "zero tolerance" for disorder and lawlessness. Much harm has already been done to the business community. The episodes of public terror have resulted in an attempt on the life of the Mayor of Georgetown, Mr. Hamilton Green, and threats against public figures. Marauding gangs have invaded state offices, and now threats are made to disrupt attendance at schools in Georgetown.

In our view these protests have gone beyond legal bounds. They are a threat to peace, good order and the rule of law.

In spite of efforts to undermine law enforcement our security forces have performed admirably to contain the new threat to our democracy, and the peace and security which our country enjoyed in the past five years.

As I remarked in my New Year's Address to the Nation, my Government is committed to a multi-party democracy, good governance and the rule of law.

This democracy cannot be built on racial incitement, violence or senseless killing. This democracy cannot be promoted by bullyism, death threats, bomb hoaxes and street terror.

We must put a stop to this spate of lawlessness. We must extinguish the fire of terrorism before it engulfs our entire nation.

I therefore appeal to leaders of all political parties to eschew violence or retaliation. Our Constitution and our laws provide mechanisms for the peaceful resolution of political conflicts. Let us resort to these mechanisms, rather than to brute force.

On December 15 Guyanese went to the polls in an orderly and peaceful way to cast their votes in the 199 General and Regional Elections. Foreign and local observers were impressed at the free and fair manner in which these elections were conducted from the time polling began to the counting of the ballots at the place of poll.

In all the regions the conduct of the elections officials was described as exemplary except for the Georgetown area where several shortcomings have been identified. Our Government has expressed support for an independent international audit of all circumstances surrounding the elections, including the conduct of some Presiding Officers in the Georgetown area. We must let this process work.

I know that this is the way most Guyanese want us to resolve any differences which arose out of the elections. I know that Guyanese want to go about their lives in peace and not be held ransom by a small band of misguided elements.

In this regard, as President of the Republic, I have asked our Security Forces to maintain their high alert and vigilance, and to protect the peace in Guyana from further destabilising acts.

I have been assured that all such steps would be taken to ensure a return to lawful activities in Georgetown, and that elements bent on creating disorder and violence will be met with the full force of the law.

I have been assured that strenuous efforts are being made by the Joint Services to apprehend the perpetrators of the criminal attack on the NTN television station.

Our people have exercised tremendous calm and patience in the face of extreme provocation. We must maintain this display of maturity as we remain firm in our resolve to defend our democracy, and to fully cooperate with our law enforcement agencies to protect our country from destructive forces.

Office of the President
Monday, January 5, 1998