PPP to Corbin: 'put up or shut up'
--- also calls for local govt. elections this year
Guyana Chronicle
January 30, 2004

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THE RULING PPP has called on the PNC/R and its leadership to stop politicizing the Bacchus affair for partisan political reasons and hand over whatever information they have to the Police and thus allow for a formal investigation into George Bacchus' allegations that Home Affairs Minister Ronald Gajraj is linked to a death squad.

PPP General Secretary Donald Ramotar said yesterday the Police are the lawful authority to handle such matters.

"Instead of supporting the formal process necessary for a transparent investigation, the Leader of the Opposition launched a vitriolic attack on the Commissioner of Police. Mr. Corbin could not be serious about any investigation," Mr. Ramotar said at a news conference at Freedom House, adding: "The time has come for Mr. Corbin and the PNC/R to either put up or shut up."

He said Guyanese are seeing through the political gimmicks of petitioning, picketing and walking out of Parliament. Consequently the PNC/R picket lines have attracted small numbers.

"The PNC/R seems least interested in any investigation and more in lynching Minister Gajraj," Mr. Ramotar stressed.

As regards the revoking of a Canadian visa issued to Mr. Gajraj, the PPP General Secretary said he would prefer to comment after hearing what the Canadian High Commissioner had to say on the matter. In addition, Mr. Ramotar said the minister is willing to give up his privacy in order for the Canadian High Commission to make public the reasons for revoking his visa.

Meanwhile, the PPP says it would like to see long overdue Local Government Elections held this year because it feels that these elections are needed to renew grass root democracy and allow for greater self-government at the community level.

Mr. Ramotar said his party is hoping that all concerned will appreciate the point and work towards holding these elections in the nearest possible time.

Mr. Ramotar accused the PNC/R of putting obstacles to delay the holding of these elections.

"We cannot, also, help but notice that the main opposition party seems intent on putting all kinds of obstacles in facing these polls. If they are sincere in their talk of democracy then they should help the process instead of their present role as a hindrance. Let us have the Local Government Elections at the earliest opportunity," Mr. Ramotar declared.

Responding to a question on the situation regarding agreement on the electoral system for local government, Mr. Ramotar said his party is of the view that the system that was used for the national elections should be retained, where allocations for geographical areas are made and the rest of seats decided upon by Proportional Representation (PR), but this been objected to by the PNC/R.

On the issue of the reduced number of seats in mini-buses, Mr. Ramotar said his party welcomes the decision put on hold the enforcement of the existing traffic law - the Motor Vehicle and Road Traffic Act 21:01, which was enacted since the 1960s when mini-buses were not plying the roads.

According to Mr. Ramotar, the PPP feels the law should be examined to see if it needs amended to take into consideration the type of vehicles which dominate the transportation system.

However, the General Secretary noted that his party is concerned for the safety and comfort of the traveling public, and those mini-buses that are modified to ad more seats than they have been designed for should resort to their original positions.

Mr. Ramotar also said his party is rejecting attempts by uninformed persons in some media houses commenting on its internal operations.

According to the General Secretary several of these persons have never been members of the party and therefore have no knowledge of how the party mechanism functions.

He also accused one media house choosing to consult one Anan Boodram as an expert on the PPP, declaring: "Let me inform the public that Mr. Boodram was never elected to the Leadership of the PPP."

He added that his party rejects any attempts by certain elements to create confusion and misunderstanding.