PPP/C pays tribute to Dr Jagan
Protesters denounce Ramjattan expulsion By Daniel Da Costa
March 8, 2004
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Among those making the journey to the site were President Bharrat Jagdeo; former President and Dr Jagan's widow, Mrs Janet Jagan, Prime Minister Samuel Hinds and his wife, General Secretary of the PPP/C, Donald Ramotar, Minister of the Public Service and acting Minister of Health, Dr Jennifer Westford, US Ambassador Roland Bullen and UK High Commissioner Stephen Hiscock.
Those undertaking the pilgrimage were greeted at the entrance to the Babu John Cemetery on the Port Mourant public road by a group of party supporters bearing placards and banners calling for the reinstatement of expelled Berbician parliamentarian and attorney-at-law Khemraj Ramjattan. Some of the placards read: "No Ramjattan, No vote", "Berbi-cians will not take the expulsion of Ramjattan lightly", "The PPP must revoke the decision to expel Ramjattan" and "We want Ramjattan in PPP." A large red banner read: 'Ramotar, Gail, Rohee and Gang should be expelled not Ramjattan." A pamphlet calling for Ramjattan's reinstatement was also circulated before and during the ceremony.
President Jagdeo and his entourage were later greeted with tassa drumming and embraces from several party members as he approached the makeshift platform decorated with bunting and a huge photograph of Dr. Jagan. In his address the Head of state took issue with "some sections", of the media which he accused of being "hostile" to his Government. "They have not been objective, fair and balanced in their reporting" he said. "Their job is not to report accurately and fairly but to oppose the PPP/C. They will not be satisfied until the PPP/C loses an election. They do not report fairly but campaign with political parties against the PPP/C" he argued. The Head of state named the Stabroek News and Channel 9 as among those assisting in an attempt, led by the PNC/R, to "pierce the armour of the PPP/C.
"They are not going to pierce our armour, we have not started to fight back as yet but we will do so soon by informing you what is really happening and correct the wrong impressions being conveyed", he told the gathering. He was however quick to add that he will always defend freedom of the press.
Touching on the dialogue with Opposition Leader Robert Corbin, Jagdeo said he was committed to the process as "part of a new political culture to solve differences through discussion. We will not bring thugs on the streets to beat up people when we can't have our own way...
"However no one must believe that by going to the table we will roll over and accept anything the opposition wants to our detriment. This will not happen", he said.
In a highly charged address, the Head of State referred to the many challenges which faced the late Dr Jagan saying "we are facing similar challenges today... a hostile media, an aggressive opposition and people within the party bent on bringing down the party.. We have to face that today." Referring to calls from some sections for an expansion of democratic rights in the party, Jagdeo cautioned the gathering: "don't be fooled by those calls. The party has always been a democratic party." In an obvious reference to Ramjattan's statements and his stand-off with the party, the Russian-trained economist described it as "personal ambition. Whatever is the outcome of this we will remain strong and united".
Expanding on the issue, he noted that "the problem we have in the party is that we are too humane and too nice. But when people begin to harm the party, it is time to take a stand and we will take a stand." Mrs Jagan in brief remarks also touched on the issue while recounting her late husband's life and achievements. She referred to those "who are today seeking to destroy the party Dr. Jagan built to satisfy their personal ambition."
Party General Secretary, Ramotar also took issue with those who he were bent on destroying what Dr. Jagan built. "They want to use the name of Dr. Jagan to destroy what he built. Dr. Jagan warned us when he was alive about the danger of individualism, about the damage it could do and taught us about the importance of team work." He called on those gathered to be vigilant against those who want to create divisions within the party saying "look at this man's company", an obvious reference to Ramjattan
The programme, which got underway just after 3:30 pm, was interspersed with a number of cultural items and tributes by party members and school children from the central Corentyne area. Wreaths were laid at the site by senior members of the party, relatives and US Ambassador, Bullen among others at the Memorial Site, which benefited from a recent facelift.
Touching on the border dispute with Suriname, the Head of State said the Government is hoping for an early ruling from the Law of the Sea tribunal in our favour so that the CGX oil rig could return to the location from which it was evicted by Surinamese military personnel in June 2000. "We have a lot of poor people in Guyana and we cannot wait forever to exploit the oil lying offshore. That oil can transform our economy and move a lot of people out of poverty." The Government he said was committed to a peaceful resolution "but not because previous governments sat on the issue and never took any action to resolve the issue means we will do the same. Instead we will use all of our available resources to peacefully resolve it."
Responding to allegations of corruption and involvement of Government officials in the drug trade, the young President said he had told US President George W. Bush that with the success in Colombia against the drug trade, countries like Guyana with large porous borders will be targeted by drug lords. He however noted that the Government had taken steps to address the situation mentioning that Guyana was being used as a major transshipment point for sometime now. "We are not sitting down… we are doing things to address this problems." In relation to allegations of the involvement of Government officials in criminal gangs, Jagdeo offered that the PPP/C will never link up with criminals to violate the Laws of Guyana" and he called on the PNC/R to join the Government in the fight against crime.
Dusk had already begun to fall on the sprawling Cemetery cum Crematorium site a few metres from the Atlantic Ocean as the curtains came down on yet another annual ritual to honour the late President.