PNC/R says no cooperation with PPP/C
-- governing party calls policy `ludicrous'
Guyana Chronicle
April 19, 2002

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THE rift widened yesterday between the governing People's Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) and the main Opposition People's National Congress Reform (PNC/R) with the latter opting for a formal policy of "active non-cooperation" because of "grievances" with the PPP/C.

The PNC/R had earlier put on `pause' the dialogue process President Bharrat Jagdeo started a year ago with its leader, Mr. Desmond Hoyte who did not go into details yesterday when he announced that the non-cooperation will involve various "non-Parliamentary and extra-Parliamentary forms".

He told a news conference at the party's Congress Place headquarters in Georgetown that the PNC/R will intensify its work to oppose the Government's alleged bad policies, its corruption, incompetence and general mismanagement.

But in a statement yesterday afternoon, the PPP/C accused the Opposition Leader of "vile attacks and wild, irresponsible statement", charging this was a "barefaced attempt to do damage control" after his party's "use of criminal and hooliganistic elements and terrorist tactics to achieve political objectives have been totally exposed."

The PPP/C also said the PNC/R's talk about a policy of active non-cooperation was "ludicrous", noting that just days after the jailbreak on February 23 last, the Opposition party had already put the constructive dialogue process on "pause" and implemented its threats of "extra-Parliamentary action".

It charged that the tendency of the PNC/R to align with criminals became pronounced in the post 1997 and 2001 general and regional elections when hundreds of Guyanese, mainly persons of East Indian descent were beaten and robbed during PNC-organised demonstrations. The PPP/C said billions of dollars in property were damaged by fire and vandalism in those disturbances.

Announcing that the PNC/R was immediately formally adopting a policy of active non-cooperation with the PPP/C, Hoyte charged that the governing party had stubbornly refused to bring up for debate in the National Assembly, certain proposals his party had submitted.

He said that from yesterday, the PNC/R will have no form of cooperation with the Government in any new areas (other than to facilitate constitutional mandates and outstanding constitutional reforms) "until existing grievances have been fully redressed."

The Government has insisted that progress had been made in talks on the issues the Opposition party had identified as "grievances" when it in February halted the dialogue process between President Jagdeo and Mr. Hoyte.

Hoyte said that prominent on the agenda for the dialogue between himself and President Jagdeo, was the issue of a Commission of Enquiry into the operations of the Target Special Squad (Black Clothes Police) of the Police Force, and into the functioning of the force generally.

He claimed that the President has kept ignoring the issue.

The PPP/C, however, argued that the Opposition party "is merely seeking to divert attention from its internal leadership wrangling, and rejection from within and without the PNC/R of its open and unmasked support and harbouring of criminal elements."

"It is clear that the PNC/R Leader's recent attacks and illusionary accusations, which would not be credited with specific responses, are just a rehash of undiluted vitriol being mouthed by its operatives in sections of the media who seem to be in control of the PNC/R's agenda."

As more and more evidence continues to emerge, Guyanese are increasingly speaking out against its anti-Police campaign and the PNC/R leadership is expected to react more desperately, the PPP/C said.

Hoyte told reporters: "We will robustly exercise our constitutional rights, as well as those democratic prerogatives enshrined in the CARICOM (Caribbean Community) Charter of Civil Liberties, to bring this recalcitrant regime to a proper understanding of its obligation to administer the affairs of this country in a fair, honest and just way."

He said his party "has no obligation to the governing regime; its sole duty is to its members and to the Guyanese citizenry as a whole. And it will always fulfil that duty."

According to the PPP/C, the PNC/R needs to ask itself if it is really committed to peace and unity in the country.

"Do its actions and statements represent its so-called support for law and order? Is the country benefiting from its campaign against the Police and lawmen?", it asked.

It said that the PNC/R leadership and those with criminal intent "would soon realise that they are alone in their promotion of fear and terror in our society."

In the face of tremendous provocation and interruption of law and order, the PPP/C said it has "always demonstrated the political maturity to act in the interest of national unity, peace and progress in our country."

It said all Guyanese must take a stand on the side of law and order and reject the elements of division.