PNC/R says statement on removing govt not seditious
Stabroek News
June 22, 2002

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The PNC/R's response to the PPP/Civic's "imposition of bad governance on the people" is to present itself as an alternative government.

Reading from a prepared text at a PNC/R press briefing held at its Congress Place, Sophia headquarters on Thursday, PNC REFORM (PNC/R) Central Executive Committee member, Dr Faith Harding, said that it was "widely acknowledged that the government has long since lost its grip on the affairs of the nation."

She said that the government "was weak, indecisive, and dangerously discriminatory. It has ruined our economy, demoralised the police force, presided over a reign of criminal terror and through its economic mismanagement, created an ever-growing pool of impoverished Guyanese." She added that for a morally responsible political opposition, the only response in such a situation "is to present itself as an alternative government." In most other civilised countries, she said, the head of a government with so little credibility would have resigned as an act of patriotism to save the country from further humiliation and destruction.

Harding said that the party viewed with interest efforts by the PPP/Civic to malign and sully the good name of the party by the spreading of "vicious lies through the medium" of the `Square Talk' programme. "This latest attack," she said "is to be viewed with amusement particularly in the context of the party's failed campaign to label the PNC/R as a terrorist organisation" and the inability to produce one iota of evidence to link the PNC/R to criminals.

Harding said that the PPP/C could not try to convince the nation that the PNC/R was linked to criminals and at the same time hope that the PNC/R's statements condemning crime will have a positive effect. She said that the PPP/C must decide if it wanted to score political points or bring an end to the crime wave.

Asked if the PNC/R has attempted to find out whether or not its former candidate at the last general elections, Ronald Waddell, has been circulating inflammatory leaflets as alleged by the government, PNC/R General Secretary, Oscar Clarke, said that the party asked Waddell and his response was that he too had seen the pamphlets but was in no way responsible for producing them. The party, he said, also has no evidence to the contrary.

Stating that the PNC/R has noticed, too, the "deliberate misunderstanding and misinterpretation of its statements on the state of governance in Guyana", Harding said that some of this has emerged from the editorial opinion of the Stabroek News which she described as "what should normally be a thoughtful and responsible national newspaper." She described as nonsense the newspaper's "allegation that our announced intention to work for the removal of Jagdeo's corrupt and incompetent regime from office is seditious."

The Sunday Stabroek editorial of June 16 titled 'Dangerous talk' said in part "There can be few people in this nation who really need persuading that we are in great peril. There are probably few people too, who do not recognise that the government and opposition need to talk about the immediate crisis. But with one side having labelled the other terrorist, and the other, ostensibly, at any rate, now talking sedition, it is difficult to see them sitting down and talking together." The editorial was referring to statements made by PNC/R leaders at a public meeting.

Asked about Party Leader Desmond Hoyte's speech at a rally held at the Square of the Revolution on June 13 in which he endorsed one of the speakers, Phillip Bynoe's presentation, urging the removal of "Jagdeo's corrupt and incompetent administration," PNC/R Member of Parliament Raphael Trotman said that the PNC/R was an opposition party and every day it was in the business of trying to remove the government from office. Nothing was wrong with that, he said adding that the Jagdeo government could not expect the PNC/R to prop it up. However, he said that the party took offence at the newspaper's editorial and interpreted "talking sedition" to mean removal by arms or armed means.

The Sunday Stabroek in reply to the PNC/R's charges has noted that sedition according to the Chambers Dictionary - New Edition (1998) is: "Public speech or action intended to promote disorder." (Miranda La Rose)