PNCR launches signature campaign for Gajraj's removal
Stabroek News
January 16, 2004

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PNCR Leader Robert Corbin addressing the gathering yesterday outside the Ministry of Home Affairs. With him on the truck (from left) are parliamentarians Debra Backer, Raphael Trotman, Jerome Khan and Basil Williams.

The PNCR yesterday launched a national signature campaign calling for the resignation of Minister of Home Affairs Ronald Gajraj as protests outside his ministry continued.

A few hundred people gathered yesterday to lend support to the PNCR's effort to force the resignation of Gajraj following allegations of connections to the infamous 'phantom squad'. These allegations were made by businessman George Bacchus.

Several prominent members of the PNCR were there as well.

At about 11 am, the chanting stopped to allow PNCR shadow home minister, Debra Backer, to read a statement. She recalled several incidents which occurred in Guyana over the last 20-odd months, involving 'squad' members, among others.

Backer said that since the allegations were made against Gajraj, PNCR Leader, Robert Corbin, had raised the matter with the government through Prime Minister Sam Hinds, who said he had to await the return of President Bharrat Jagdeo.

The PNCR has also sensitised the international community and Guyanese organisations overseas through foreign embassies and letters to Caricom leaders. The matter has been followed up with Amnesty International and other human rights organisations. And the party has held discussions with several local bodies. It intends to continue to campaign against "state-sponsored murder" and has called for an independent investigation of the issue. It is also effectively carrying out a policy of non-recognition of the home affairs minister.

In an invited comment, Corbin said the PNCR set the precedent when accusations were levelled against him in 1985, and he had stepped down as minister. He also mentioned that during an investigation involving the son of then minister of foreign affairs Rashleigh Jack-son he had also chosen to step down in the interest of allowing investigators the room to carry out their work.