The Government may agree to an inquiry: Why?
Freddie on Monday
May 10, 2004
Guyanese are now asking why, for four months, did the Guyana Government refuse to hold an inquest into charges made by a man who says he has proof that the Minister in charge of internal security operated an extra-judicial group that targeted and killed criminals with impunity, something that Brazil became notorious for in the eighties. Now that the government may agree to it, what reasons would you proffer?
There has to be a single, pressing motive or a series of motivations that led to the dramatic statement that the Minister is prepared to go on leave and allow for an investigation into the allegation that he headed a death squad within the Ministry of Home Affairs. This article here is based on both logical deduction and speculation. It is being written without any confidential sharing of information by insiders but the analyst must be able to offer plausible responses as to why the state does what it does. Before we enumerate the possible reasons, two fundamental points need to be unambiguously and boldly advanced Ė (A) This was not a decision of the Minister himself. If Ronald Gajraj wanted to hibernate from his Ministry to allow for an investigation and the leadership of the PPP didnít agree, then Gajraj would have been told that he could have resigned if he wanted but that the government would not pursue an inquiry. (B) This decision was not arrived at through deliberations inside the Central Committee and Executive Committee of the PPP because the party would not have wanted Moses Nagamootoo to be privileged to such a discourse.
Now letís search for the causes of the unexpected turn around by the ruling party. First, it may be connected to the bid to have World Cup cricket matches played here. The people who will award cricket placements to Guyana are not West Indian citizens. They are from the International Cricket Conference (ICC) and they will turn their backs on any country that is permeated with political instability with the concomitant role of violence. They will interpret it to mean that the country cannot provide security for the games. Guyana has had three protest demonstrations in two weeks and an attempted arson on the security ministry. These developments will militate against a smooth passage of Guyanaís bid. Added to this, the government may be in possession of intelligence from its security services that violent protest against Gajraj may be imminent before the second week in July when the venues for World Cup matches will be announced. If this is the ground for causing the government to do the turn around, then it will be in for a rude awakening. There isnít going to be World Cup matches here in 2007 because political instability in 2006 after the election in that year will drag into 2007. The ICC is not going to take any chances whatsoever, even if Caricom Heads assure the ICC that it is safe to play in Guyana. Whatever matches are scheduled to be played in Guyana will be transferred to another venue. The PNC knows that it has a trump card in 2007.
Both the PPP as a party, and Bharrat Jagdeo, and at a personal level (for career purposes) want the World Cup stadium. Jagdeo went to India and pleaded with sincere earnestness for Indiaís help for the stadium. But the PNC isnít going to allow a painless birth of Jagdeoís legacy. The PNC knows that in the World Cup stadium lies its greatest moment to wrest concessions from the PPP if the PPP wins the election. Chances are the PPP will lose its parliamentary majority but Jagdeo will retain the presidency. This seems the likely outcome in 2006. The only way to avoid violence is if Jagdeo agrees to the PNC demands, and the PNC has one claim which it is inflexible about Ė power-sharing.
A second possibility revolves around the attitude of the British, Canadian and American Governments. The PPP administration will not survive in 2006 if these three powerful players in the Guyana economy decide that the PPP must go. It is indeed possible that the PPP is facing unmitigated insistence from the donor countries that the inquiry must be held and a showdown is nearing. It is important to note that these three governments have virtually given up on the PPP to bring Guyana into a climate of social and economic stability. I donít get around much nor do I do the cocktail circuit but from the little discussion I have had with diplomats from these three countries, the disappointment with the PPP is nerve-shattering. One of these governments does not mind having the PNC back in government I would like to share with you two short stories about how the West feels about the PPP. Two high level officials from the Carter Centre were in Guyana and requested to talk to the academics in Political Science at UG. We met in the office of Dr. Daniel Kumar. In a brutally frank display of an evaluation of the Guyanese situation both of them saw a coming implosion and both felt that the PPP must be blamed for the way it has used power since 1992. In guarded terms, they opined that the PPP has betrayed the political goodwill that the Carter Centre engendered in Guyana after the Ď92 poll. Then an official from CIDA, the Canadian International Development Agency, spoke confidentially to Dr. Mark Kirton, Dr. Kumar and me (again in Dr. Kumarís office) about the attitude of the Ministers when he apprised them of a new grant scheme CIDA was planning. He said that the Ministers were adamant that the disbursement process must be controlled by the government. He said they behaved as if Guyana was a communist state. As he spoke, it was quite clear, that he didnít like the Government of Guyana. The new grant programme was never extended to Guyana. It is reasonable to infer that these men have told their respective governments what they told the three of us.
There could be a third factor; that the ruling party has a strategic position to fall back on when the inquiry begins. This could take many forms; a watered down probe that will skim the surface only and exonerate the minister, and a narrow inquest that will hardly reveal anything. Then, there could be a powerful inquiry but which will be undermined by the absence of witnesses. In such circumstances, the ruling party would have honoured its obligation to the domestic opposition and the western governments and come out of the official scrutiny unscathed.
We have to wait and see how events unfold but I reiterate a viewpoint that I carried in a previous article - I cannot see Gajraj administering a death squad without the approval of his superiors.