PNC/R culpable only to extent it mobilised supporters - Khan
July 11, 2002
Chairman of the REFORM component of the PNC/R, Jerome Khan, has rejected the view that the party is culpable for last week’s debacle at the Office of the President, but concedes that it bears some responsibility in so far that it mobilised its supporters for the march.
Last week, a protest march ended in tragedy when two protesters were killed and a number injured after a group of them barged into the Office of the President and confronted staff there.
Khan told Stabroek News in a telephone interview from abroad that he strongly condemned the burning of the buildings in the commercial area that followed the shooting of the protesters and the beating of innocent citizens, particularly East Indians by lawless groups. However, he said, he wanted the party’s leadership to remain focused on the issues of corruption, incompetence, victimisation and discrimination.
"The solution to our problem is a political solution and cannot be achieved by the beating of any innocent citizen based on their race or political affiliation." He said that he "is calling on all Guyanese to behave in a civil and civilised manner to each other to live in peace and harmony."
Khans said he was disappointed that "the PPP/C continues to behave as if the lives of the East Indian people and all other Guyanese are merely chattel and collateral to be used to retain its position in power."
Khan said that he had been unable to speak with his colleagues some of whom like Raphael Trotman and Peter Ramsaroop have given their views to the media.
However, he said he was disappointed by remarks by his colleague in the REFORM, Ramsaroop. He said that Ramsaroop did not seek to contact him before going public with his views. "One cannot want to be part of an organisation and behave like a maverick." Ramsaroop in a letter in the Stabroek News of July 8 condemned the events of last Wednesday and noted that the two REFORM MPs Khan and Stanley Ming were yet to issue a statement on it. Ramsaroop further said that the two REFORM MPs should "step out of the shadows and return to Parliament to discuss the necessary reforms needed to move our nation forward". Ramsaroop had also criticised PNC/R leaders for appearing on the same platform with some of the leaders of last Wednesday’s march and said that the party was allowing a violence-prone minority of its members to speak for the majority of law-abiding citizens.
Khan said that REFORM members adopting a different position from its partner in the alliance, the PNC, was a policy decision to be taken only after discussion among the leadership of the PNC/R. "It is simply wild to run to the press demanding a certain initiative without first getting the benefit of the collective wisdom of [the organisation’s] leaders."
PNC/R Vice-chairman Vincent Alexander reiterated views he expressed on a recent television programme.
He conceded that to the extent that the PNC/R mobilised its members for the protest march it bore some responsibility for the events last Wednesday. But he said that the PNC/R couldn’t accept responsibility for the events at the Office of the President compound. "At no time what happened at the Office of the President was organised or designed by the PNC."
He disagreed that his comments were in conflict with that of his party’s chairman, Robert Corbin. Alexander said that Corbin had expressed the same sentiments; that the party supported the march but in no way could be blamed for what happened at the Office of the President. He said Corbin’s view was that the party had no part in orchestrating what took place there.
Trotman had said that the party should take some responsibility for what transpired on Wednesday. "The party has to be brave enough to accept some responsibility in terms of the loss of life and all the persons affected; they are consequences which flowed and therefore we cannot pretend we were in no way involved", Trotman said.