No PPP/Civic, PNC talks following Parliament demonstration

Stabroek News
February 28, 1998

The mechanism for ensuring the smooth implementation of the terms of the Herdmanston Accords, has not been invoked to explore the genesis of yesterday's demonstrations outside the Parliament Buildings.

The PPP/Civic has accused the PNC in a release issued on Thursday of being responsible for the incident in which the presidential entourage was stoned as it left the Parliament Buildings. It also called on CARICOM to deplore the PNC's resort to political thuggery and terrorism, which it said constituted a clear breach of the Herdmanston Accord.

Haslyn Parris, the PNC representative charged with overseeing the implementation of the terms of the Accord, told Stabroek News that he had not been contacted by his counterpart from the PPP/Civic, Michael Shree Chan, about the incident. However, he said that he would have been surprised if he had been contacted by Shree Chan on the basis of a story that was unfounded.

Parris said that he was unaware that the PPP/Civic had issued a statement about the incident accusing the PNC of being responsible for what took place. But he said that he was aware that the PNC had issued a statement disclaiming any responsibility and calling on the police to mount an investigation into the incident.

Parris asserted that he was satisfied in his own mind that the PNC was in no way involved in the incident, pointing that he would not wish to be in a position where his efforts could be undermined by some other arm of the party.

"I wish not to make a comment on that now," was Shree Chan's response to Stabroek News' queries as to whether he had contacted Parris, or if he intended to do so shortly.

This newspaper was unable to contact Dr Roger Luncheon, the PPP/Civic official charged with conducting the political dialogue with the PNC, or PNC General Secretary, Aubrey Norton, who is Dr Luncheon's counterpart for a comment.

Hugh Cholmondeley, who assisted the CARICOM goodwill mission in brokering the Accord, told this newspaper that he had spoken with both leaders, and had hoped that he would have been able to make a statement, but was, in fact, not in a position to do so.

When contacted by Stabroek News PNC leader Desmond Hoyte said that Chomondeley had raised the incident, and said that they had both agreed that it was regretable that it should have occurred at this time.

Hoyte reiterated that the PNC had nothing to with the events on Thursday, saying that if it had mounted a protest there would have been thosuands participating, and the PNC would not have been afraid to own its own protest.

A PNC statement issued yesterday reiterated the party's denial of being responsible for the protest, its condemnation of the persons who participated in stoning the presidential entourage, and its call for the police to identify and prosecute the perpetrators.

The release said too "that if the PPP has information about the identity of these people, its duty is to give that information to the Police and to cooperate with them in any criminal case they might bring against the alleged perpetrators." It said that it would not be "issuing any futher release on the matter."

Yesterday the Justice for All party (JFA) and the Alliance for Guyana (AFG) added their voices to the condemnation of what took place outside Parliament on Thursday. The JFA described the action of the protesters as "uncouth, disrespectful and outrageous," and said that "we should not seek to perpetuate acts that continue to divide us."

In their statement, the AFG deplored the vulgarity displayed during the protest, going on to say that such behaviour defeated rather than advanced the cause of the demonstrators. While noting that an element of spontaneity may have been involved in the protest, the incident was nevertheless troubling, the AFG said, and underscored the need for urgent dialogue between the PPP and the PNC leadership.