PNC/R criticises President for attending Earth Summit
Stabroek News
September 6, 2002

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President Bharrat Jagdeo has come in for stinging criticism from the PNC/R for attending the just-concluded World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) in South Africa.

The party’s contention was that he wanted “to be as far away as possible from the problems that grip the nation.”

Central Executive Member, Deryck Bernard, at the PNC/R’s weekly press briefing at Congress Place, Sophia said that Guyana would have better been served at the WSSD by Foreign Affairs Minister, Rudy Insanally, “an extremely competent minister,” whose track record is that of a distinguished diplomat and who attended the Earth Summit held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992.

Bernard said that because of the current situation, Insanally should have represented the country, as the delegation to the WSSD had no one with “demonstrated competence in sustainable development, diplomacy or the environment.”

Reading from a prepared text at the same press conference, Central Executive Committee Member, Raphael Trotman, said that as the President went sight-seeing in South Africa, spending Guyanese taxpayers’ money senselessly on lavish trips abroad, the poor suffering masses continued to feel the brunt of his incompetent administration.

“Every week after conditioning ourselves to believe that we have weathered the worst of the crime wave, we are inundated by yet another and more powerful swell,” he said. The administration’s approach, he said, had gone from “the silly to the disgusting, from the hilarious to the offensive.” He said it was time for decisive action to be taken by the regime to curb the reign of terror and to allay the fears of defenceless citizens whose pleas for help and attention have fallen on deaf ears.

The country was faced with a situation where brave young law-enforcement officers were gunned down with impunity and no one arrested and charged with their murders, he said. And former US embassy staffer Thomas Carroll and his kind continued to heap disgrace and scorn on all law enforcement officers and the nation as a whole, while the administration’s response was one of total hopelessness and helplessness, Trotman said.

Charging that the government was rudderless and ineffective in dealing with the crime wave, Trotman said instead of showing grit and determination, the President has “flitted in and out of Guyana on trivial matters while neglecting vital matters at home.”

He said Guyanese deserved “a real President” who, whether they were supporters of his party or not they should be able to admire and respect as the Head of State. Unfortunately, he said the PNC/R found it “extremely difficult to generate any respect” for the current holder of the office and it was the party’s considered opinion that President Jagdeo “has devalued the office so shabbily and in such cavalier fashion.”

Jagdeo, he said, was able to justify a trip to South Africa to participate in a conference attended by 65,000 persons at which there was no matter of vital importance to Guyana which depended on his attendance.

Responding to the point that the President was the current Chairman of CARICOM and environmental matters such as global warming were of importance to the region, Trotman said that the PNC/R did not wish to devalue the matters facing the region, but asked which of the two was more urgent, the rising sea levels or the unfolding crime wave and internal security situation in Guyana.

He said that certainly the nation would have hoped that “our President would have been with us doing some problem solving to bring an end” to situations in which people were being robbed, raped and killed and villages like Non Pariel and Bladen Hall, invaded by bandits on a nightly basis.

Trotman said it was instructive that the President appeared to have a very modest evaluation of the value of his presence and strength of the moral and intellectual leadership he could provide in this time of national trauma. And he might be correct in his view that his presence at home would make no difference to the problems being faced, Trotman said, adding that his evasions of important matters continued to embarrass his administration.

Citing the US visa sale case, he said the public was yet to hear a straight story from the President on the matter. He said the public should be told the truth as to why he ignored the evidence of wrongdoing that the American authorities provided; why he refused to act on the information provided to him by the US ambassador; why he refused to investigate the link between the Carroll criminal gang and elements in the Guyana Police Force; and why he denied knowing about the scandal before it was made public. (Miranda La Rose)