`I am a president for all the People and I feel supported by all’ - President Bharrat Jagdeo

Guyana Chronicle
December 21, 2003

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PRESIDENT Bharrat Jagdeo yesterday firmly dismissed talk of ethnic tensions in Guyana and told a British media team that he is supported by all Guyanese.

He told the two-member team that although there have been disturbances during elections, Guyana has never had the kind of serious ethnic clashes that are evident in other countries.

The team caught up with the President during his walkabout on Regent Street yesterday.

The journalists asked President Jagdeo whether he feels supported by Afro Guyanese, to which the Guyanese leader responded: “I am a president for all the people and I feel supported by all.”

The Britons also asked the President about the crime situation, and the role of the Police.

“…If there are Phantom Groups, how would I know about their existence? I know that we have people mysteriously turning up and I have been advised that there are rival groups fighting for supremacy especially in the drug trade”.
He said that although he would admit that the crime situation is quite a serious one, the media paints a very negative picture of Guyana.

The President told the team that there are several factors responsible for the crime in Guyana including Guyanese involvement in the Columbian drug trade, the large number of deportees which over the past two years is equivalent to ten per cent of the Police Force, and other domestic problems.

He admitted that the Guyana Police Force is under-equipped and pointed out that his government is exploring various possibilities to solve the problems.

Responding to questions about Police involvement in a number of extra judicial killings, the Head of State said: “They confront the criminals head on, but they also get killed because they have to face men who point M-16s (high caliber rifles) at them and they are forced to respond in a certain way”.

He also criticised the local media for sensationalising issues and giving the impression that it is unsafe to walk the streets, and expressed the hope that the positives of Guyana would be highlighted.