PPP urges national response to criminal attacks By Chamanlall Naipaul
Guyana Chronicle
May 18, 2002

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`If we are serious about putting Guyana first, let's help the law enforcement agencies fight crime and end the campaign of terror in the society' - Mr. Donald Ramotar, PPP General Secretary

THE People's Progressive Party (PPP) is commending the anti-crime efforts of the country's security forces and is urging a national response to deal with the current violent crime wave.

At a news conference at PPP's Freedom House headquarters in Robb Street, Georgetown yesterday, General Secretary, Mr. Donald Ramotar declared, "we wish to commend the consistent anti-crime efforts of our law enforcement agencies."

"The fight against crime is everyone's business. There should not be any equivocation by any individual or party. If we are serious about putting Guyana first, let's help the law enforcement agencies fight crime and end the campaign of terror in the society", he said.

Ramotar added, "...we need a national response to dealing effectively with the crime situation. All groups must take a firm stance on the side of the law and the fight against crime."

He said there is no justification for hardworking and law-abiding Guyanese to live under the fear and uncertainty of being the next victim of the "murderous and marauding bandits who stalk our communities" and called for a genuine, united national response.

The PPP is deeply concerned about the impact of the upsurge in violent crimes on the economic development and social harmony of the country and the targeting of innocent Guyanese, Ramotar said.

He indicated that the PPP has always had suspicions of some form of linkage between certain criminal elements and sections of the Opposition People's National Congress/Reform (PNC/R).

"The issuing of threats, barrages of incendiary statements, an ongoing campaign to demonise the Police, and even reported activities by certain PNC/R officials have contributed to the conflicting signals from Congress Place (PNC/R headquarters) on this national scourge," Ramotar charged.

He said if the PNC/R is not involved in any form or manner, it must so convince the population. "It must repeatedly make clear an unqualified support for the fight against crime and the anti-crime efforts of the law enforcement agencies. To do otherwise will continue to give credibility to the view widely held that the PNC/R is not seriously interested in the fight against crime," he said.

He added, "it is the civic duty of the PNC/R to provide some form of help to the Police in arresting those criminal elements, including the escapees, who are said to have the entire community at Buxton under siege, thus affecting social services and economic opportunities in the area."

Ramotar expressed the view that PNC/R leader, Mr. Desmond Hoyte should return to his stance on the Police crime fighting actions in 1985, referring to a page four report in the Guyana Chronicle of November 10, 1985 which stated: "President Hoyte took the opportunity to congratulate the Commissioner and his men on their recent successes in combating crime and apprehending dangerous criminals. He deemed the attack on the Police Force as being not only irresponsible, but dangerous."

Hoyte was at the time rebutting an attack on the Police Force by the Guyana Human Rights Association.

The political environment created by the PNC/R leadership decision to put dialogue between President Bharrat Jagdeo and the Opposition Leader on "pause", and to take "extra-parliamentary action", has not helped the situation, Ramotar said.

He added, "we still believe that there was no justification for putting the dialogue on pause and the PNC/R walking out of Parliament. Criminals thrive in an environment of unease, fear and tension."

He reiterated the PPP's "open door" policy on resuming the dialogue, stating that compromises are essential, but the only way these could be achieved is through talks.

Hoyte halted dialogue with the President and the PNC/R withdrew from participation in the National Assembly on March 15 last over perceived differences with the governing PPP/Civic alliance.

The PNC/R said the action was to register "total disgust" at the failure of the Government to honour its responsibility for good governance; refusal to implement constitutional changes and recommendations made during dialogue between the sides; and subverting and preventing the National Assembly from functioning in a structured and effective manner

Ramotar categorically rejected the PNC/R allegation that the PPP is engaged in a race hate campaign, stating that there is no basis for such an allegation, and instead accused the PNC/R of politicising the crime situation, using race in the process.

He also announced that his party would be embarking on a nationwide campaign shortly to provide a platform for all concerned to make a firm and unequivocal statement against crime and extended an invitation to community and religious leaders, political representatives and decent minded citizens to let their voices be heard and show support for the fight against crime.

Among the activities planned are public meetings, marches, vigils and cycle rides.