The Alliance For Change (AFC) yesterday condemned President Bharrat Jagdeo for statements he made about the party on Sunday, and said that this is an attempt to divert attention from the Clico (Guyana) fiasco.
At a press conference yesterday at the Sidewalk Café, the Party’s leader Raphael Trotman said that the AFC has been “on target” regarding corruption and the Clico issue and the implications which that would have for thousands of persons and the AFC views the President’s remarks as an attempt to divert their attention from exposing what is going on at Clico (Guyana). He declared that the party will not be distracted.
Jagdeo, on Sunday, while speaking at the 12th death anniversary of the President of Guyana and Leader of the People’s Progressive Party (PPP), Dr. Cheddi Jagan held at the Babu John Crematorium at Port Mourant, Corentyne, had asserted that someone implicated in a “cocaine in pepper sauce” bust was a major financier of the AFC. The President had also raised the issue of the financing of US-based political consultant Dick Morris for the AFC’s 2006 elections campaign and questioned how the party was able to afford his services.
Jagdeo stated: “One of the pepper-sauce men that get caught with drug-dealing was a major funder of that party too…they love to accuse the PPP but go quiet sometimes; they have a lot of skeletons in their cupboard.”
He was referring to a major cocaine bust last December in which the substance was concealed in dividers of boxes filled with bottles of pepper sauce.
The president also accused the AFC had of using money obtained from unlawful means to hire American political consultant, Dick Morris to come to Guyana during the 2006 General Elections campaign.
He questioned “how a small party like that could fund such an expensive consultant.”
The AFC yesterday called for the president to hand over any information he has to the police and said that members are willing to assist in investigations including undergoing polygraph tests.
Trotman said that the AFC views with disgust the “totally false and reckless statements” made by the President and declared that Morris provided voluntary services as a political consultant to the Party in the said campaign and he had stated so publicly at the time. He said that the Party finds it strange that three years later, the President, as he grapples with the economic challenges would use this as a diversionary tactic. “We wish to state that no one within the executive of the party and those involved in the 2006 elections campaign, received any money through the proceeds of the illicit trade in narcotics, and have no knowledge of anyone involved in any `cocaine in pepper sauce’, who is a financier of the party”, Trotman declared. He reiterated that Morris was never paid for his services and the AFC has taken a strong position against drug trafficking in the past and will continue to do so. He declared further that the party never had any association with drug lords.
“The statements made by His Excellency are reckless, irresponsible, and without foundation and any merit whatsoever but because it was made by the highest office holder in the land, the AFC is formally requesting that Mr. Jagdeo immediately hand over to the police and make public any information he purports to have in his possession or resign”, Trotman declared.
He said that the party has written to the Customs Anti-Narcotics Unit (CANU) requesting that it immediately conduct an investigation into the President’s statements and has also made a request for a similar investigation to the Head of the Western Hemisphere Division of the US Drug Enforcement Agency. The Party leader asserted that the executive of the AFC and all its members will avail themselves to assist in the conduct of the investigation including undergoing a polygraph test if Jagdeo is willing to do this.
Meantime, AFC Member of Parliament, Sheila Holder pointed out too that one of the four priority issues on the Party’s parliamentary agenda is electoral financing. She stated that it is a major concern and this is why the AFC placed it high on their agenda and in this light the President’s comments are “nonsense”.