Government has taken note of allegations
- Luncheon
WPA calls on President to take action
Guyana Chronicle
January 11, 2004

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HEAD of the Presidential Secretariat, Dr Roger Luncheon said his office has taken note of recent information that has surfaced, linking a senior government official to a 'gun-for-hire' operation here, but has neither discussed nor pronounced on the matter as yet.

" the face of the allegations in the media and repeated by the political opposition, some significance has been attached to those allegations," he told a news conference Friday.

Last week, following the execution of a man on Princes Street, an ex-informant for the hit squad rumoured to be behind several executions of fugitives, wanted persons and suspected criminals, has made allegations in the media, and has reportedly given information to the United States Embassy in Georgetown. The ex-informant claims he was the real target of the attack.

Earlier on Friday, Home Affairs Minister, Mr. Ronald Gajraj had indicated to the media that claims of State connection to the `phantom' operation have not been validated.

'Anybody can go out there and say whatever they want to say. It must bear scrutiny, it must bear analysis; and not just because somebody jumps up and says something, you will arrive at a judgement position," the minister said.

Luncheon said the reason a decision has not yet been taken on the matter was because Cabinet has not yet met for the year, but that "a reasonable amount of due attention to procedure, in the face of what might be described as media excesses in the realm of allegations going to govern and influence the way the administration responds."

"Our response, generally," Luncheon said, "would be, in the face of the proper presentation [of the allegations]...... and some accordance with the rules and the norms.... to launch an inquiry."

Had those claims been "properly presented to the competent authorities," he contends, "it would not then be unexpected" that the question of authenticity would have arisen and led to careful examination of, and investigation into, the basis on which they were made.

And commenting on Opposition Leader Robert Corbin's walkout from the swearing in ceremony of the Police Service Commission at the Office of the President Friday, Luncheon said his opinion was that it might have been an attempt to attract some attention.

"I wasn't present when it occurred - this walkout- but I do know when I was told, the first thought that crossed my mind was apparently a judgement had been rendered, and on that basis, some sentence was being executed," Luncheon said.

"Coming from a recent legal graduate, I suspect there may be some reason why the whole aspect of due process might have escaped his mind. But nonetheless, it is a bit unfortunate since Mr. Corbin and his party have made quite important contributions in having the Police Service Commission established," he added.

Meanwhile, Parliamentary minority, the Working People's Alliance (WPA) is calling on the President and the rest of the cabinet to "distance themselves from their colleagues who may be involved in these dastardly acts by relieving them from their positions and subjecting them to the scrutiny of the Law."

And while it takes no comfort in predicting that the worse was yet to come, the party says it has long warned "that political murder and gang warfare are most undesirable developments in our politics and has no place in any decent society."

Professor Clive Thomas, it says, has publicly drawn attention, through a series of articles carried by the Stabroek News, to the fate that awaits Guyana if the criminalisation of the State continues unchecked.

The WPA says it is logical to conclude that revelations of the killing squad could inevitably lead to retaliations, which, in turn, could lead the country into becoming a killing field.

"It is our firm view that this is the greatest test yet to confront the Guyana Police Force and the Guyana Defence Force as protector of the people and upholder of the Constitution," the party says, adding that it sincerely hopes that the government rises to the occasion.

"We believe that this situation calls for the strongest possible pressure to be brought to bear on the government by all sections of the society to give an accurate account of what has been taking place. It is the duty of the supporters of the ruling party to lead this charge," the WPA says in its statement.

But by the same token, it says, "we believe that the broadest coalition of forces should rally to the cause and treat this matter as the greatest national political disaster ever to be visited on this country....[and] therefore calls on all organisations, political and civic, to individually and collectively confront this most frightening situation, in the knowledge that we face the prospect that Guyana will never be the same again should we fail to rally against this scourge that has come to light."