PNC/R wants to be meaningfully engaged by the PPP/C - Trotman
Urges clearly defined rules for Hoyte succession By Daniel DaCosta
Stabroek News
June 12, 2002

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The PNC/R is seeking genuine cooperation with the PPP/C government and 99.99% of the members of the opposition party would like to play a meaningful role in the development of Guyana, according to Central Executive member Raphael Trotman.

"I believe the party is firm that it wants to play a role in the governance of the country as a meaningful opposition. We found going to Parliament made no sense in the form and manner in which it was being conducted. If we can see some genuine and conscientious ray of hope or light coming from the PPP/C we would reach out." Member of Parliament Trotman, speaking to Stabroek News in a wide-ranging interview recently in New Amsterdam, said the party is "willing, ready and able to lend our support if we are meaningfully engaged and not engaged as criminals trying to catch criminals."

At a recent press conference hosted by President Bharrat Jagdeo and his Cabinet in New Amsterdam, the Head of State again charged that some members of the PNC/R "are linked in some way or the other to the criminals." He, however, noted that "it might not be all the leaders of the opposition and some may not agree with this approach" Asked to respond to the allegation, Trotman told Stabroek News, "The PNC/R debunks any allegation or idea that it is involved in any criminal activity. We have no interest to be linked with criminals. These accusations have come about because of our stance on extra-judicial killings and as a result we have been deemed anti-police." Crime, he posited, cannot be painted with a brush of ethnicity or party ideology. "It is ridiculous to say because a criminal may be an Afro-Guyanese that he is linked to the PNC/R or the party is supportive of that criminal."

Asked what the PNC/R would have done to deal with the present crime wave if it were in office, the Member of Parliament said, "We would have recognised that crime fighting could not be conducted by only one section of the Government ... the Police Force. What is important is to restore normal relations between the police and the communities they serve. Without good relations with the communities you would not be able to get information/intelligence." The actions of the police, he opined, would be frustrated if communities are not on their side particularly when attempting to carry out raids. He is suggesting that the police try to restore relations with communities particularly on the East Coast of Demerara where it is alleged bandits are hiding out and are being harboured.

Trotman was also asked about allegations that the party was withholding vital information about the criminals from the police. "We believe that we are a political party only and we are not in the business of fighting crime and the Guyana Police Force is better equipped to obtain that information. Even if the PNC/R had such information and passed it on to the police, it would not help the situation since the police has taken a hands-off position on certain areas in the country." According to the Central Executive member, "If we do have any information that could be helpful we would do the right thing and assist the police. We are just as concerned about the breakdown of law and order as the PPP/C and would like to see something done about it immediately."

Trotman who is perceived as one of the young moderates in the party and seen as one of several possible candidates for the party’s leadership refuted claims that the PNC/R was quietly condoning the present situation hopeful that the Government would collapse in the face of instability, thereby opening the back door for the party to regain power. "The PNC/R is on record two years ago calling for a comprehensive review of the Guyana Police Force; to overhaul and modernise it to deal with crime fighting and to reform its image. It would be therefore ridiculous for us to articulate that position and now fold our arms and allow things to go awry. What we have a difficulty with", he contended, "was the fact that the Government has tried to deem us as terrorists and shut us out. On one hand we are being shut out as terrorists and on the other hand we are accused of not helping. We are ready, willing and able to lend our support, if we are meaningfully engaged and not engaged as criminals trying to catch criminals."

Responding to suggestions that the party may have lost some degree of credibility because of the outcome of some of the protests it organised in the recent past, the attorney-at-law told Stabroek News, "Protest is the most lethal instrument a party has in its quiver and should be used but sparingly and very decisively." Noting that the party has learnt from bad experiences in the past when protests were infiltrated by criminal elements he said in the future the party must be able to control such activities and ensure they are carefully planned and executed. What about his position on leadership of the party and the succession issue? "I am prepared to make myself available for any role in the party that the membership decides. Yet I am not presumptuous or arrogant to say I want to lead any group. I have never been driven by any raw ambition to lead; all I want is an opportunity to serve to make people’s lives better." In March, PNC/R leader, Desmond Hoyte disclosed that his seventy-fourth birthday in March 2003 would not find him still leading his party.

On the succession issue, Trotman recalled that two years ago someone moved to have the title of successor to the leader created but it was held in abeyance because of national elections. "However, I believe in any structure there is need for clearly defined rules and lines to succession. I hope that at this Congress (planned for August) the issue will be addressed. The leadership of the party resides not only in the leader that is seen but in an executive that is strong and the fact that the democratic spirit is alive and well in the process."

Asked to explain a statement attributed to him sometime ago about the party apologising to the Guyanese nation, Trotman said, "What I was saying was that for the country to heal, all sides should acknowledge that they had been slogging away at each other for 30-40 years and the people have been none the better for it and if we are to have genuine reconciliation we need to acknowledge that we have been fighting each other.