The AFC would not have supported Opposition Leader David Granger’s motion for a Commission of Inquiry into criminal violence in its current form and this is one possible reason why it was deferred, according to party leader Khemraj Ramjattan.
Without the support of the AFC, the motion would have suffered certain defeat as Granger’s A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) would not have had more votes that the government.
Granger’s motion, which had been slated for debate on January 10, seeks to have government appoint a Commission of Inquiry to probe criminal violence from 2004 to 2010, ranging from the killing of Minister Satyadeow Sawh to the massacres at Lusignan, Bartica and Lindo Creek in 2006. The motion was, however, deferred.
Ramjattan said the AFC wanted to make some amendments to the motion and was not inclined to support the motion without the changes.
“We wanted to add an amendment to include [the term] Truth and Reconciliation Commission and to have that body examine the criminal violence from a period way before 2004,” said Ramjattan in a comment to this newspaper last night. “We wanted to ensure that we bring out everything and not just [what occurred] since 2003 – 2004,” he said.
He cited the example of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission set up to examine the atrocities of an apartheid-torn South Africa after the end of state-sanctioned segregation in that country.
“Granger’s motion [as it was] may not have enjoyed our support because we wanted not only the truth to come out, but also that there be reconciliation and not sharing blame,” he said.
Ramjattan said that at the next sitting of the National Assembly the AFC will be presenting its amendments to the motion.
Granger had told Stabroek News last week that he felt the spirit of reconciliation that was in the air during the debate and adoption of a motion in 2003, which resulted in the establishment of the Disciplined Forces Commission, was absent at the last sitting of the National Assembly. He further noted that such motions are not meant to be attacks against any person or government, in particular, but meant to be an act of reconciliation.
Last Thursday, Speaker of the National Assembly Raphael Trotman ruled against amendments that Attorney General Anil Nandlall had proposed to the motion. Trotman had earlier deemed some of the amendments proposed by Nandlall as “scandalous.”
“I refer in particular, to references to sitting and former Members of Parliament, and other former and current leaders and superior officers of political parties and disciplined forces, and their ‘linkages’ to criminal gangs; these, in my considered opinion, offend Standing Orders 26 (b), (c) and (d),” Trotman said in his ruling.
Trotman had also criticised Clerk of the National Assembly Sherlock Isaacs for not allowing him sufficient notice of what he said were the extensive amendments proposed by Nandlall.
He had said that the amendments also make statements that appear to be “fact” and yet seek to have a probe into the very matters. He called Nandlall’s proposed amendments unacceptable said that changes would have had to be made to them to be considered. Trotman then proposed amendments to the sections which he found unacceptable.