PNCR says Min. Gajraj's decision is 'step in right direction'
--- wants conditions to ensure impartial inquiry by Jaime Hall
Guyana Chronicle
May 14, 2004

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THE People's National Congress Reform (PNCR) says that Home Affairs Minister, Mr. Ronald Gajraj's decision to proceed on leave for an independent and impartial investigation to be conducted into his alleged involvement in a death squad is a step in the right direction.

But the main opposition party believes the investigations must be conducted under certain conditions.

The party's central executive member, Ms. Debra Backer, told journalists at a press conference at Congress Place yesterday that the PNCR will continue to wage its campaign until serious and concrete measures, endorsed by a range of stakeholders, are put in place to have an impartial and independent inquiry into the matter.

She said the terms of reference for the inquiry must not be a unilateral decision of the government. It must be a document negotiated by and agreed to by local stakeholders.

Equally, the panel of experts and investigators must be selected and agreed to by stakeholders and clear timelines must be established for the investigation. Backer said the PNCR position is that the findings of the inquiry must not be left up to the discretion of the President.

Until such time as these and other conditions are in place, the party said it will continue its public actions supporting the "rule of law march" with the People's Movement for Justice (PMJ).

The party has also reported that there was a second meeting with other parliamentary opposition parties and the donor community. The meeting that was held at the UNDP boardroom on Tuesday, May 1, included the PNCR, Working People's Alliance (WPA) and Rise Organize and Rebuild (ROAR).

The parliamentary opposition parties during the meeting explained their rationale for appealing to the United Nations Secretary General, particularly since nothing was done to inspire confidence that the President and the Government are committed to the timely holding of an independent public inquiry into the allegations against the Home Affairs Minister.

Backer said, too, that the donor community expressed their interest in seeing the early resumption of constructive engagement process, but was reminded by her party that this resumption must be based on wider representation, including civil society and the other parliamentary opposition parties.