President Bharrat Jagdeo is standing by statements that a person linked to a recent cocaine bust previously financed the Alliance For Change (AFC) party.
“I know what I know and I am sticking by what I said,” Jagdeo told reporters at a press conference on Monday, days after the AFC called on him to hand over any information he has to the police and said that members are willing to assist in investigations including undergoing polygraph tests. “I am pleased they are calling for investigations now, when they consistently–in parliament and out of parliament–in an unfounded fashion and without any evidence seek to link the PPP to drug dealers and to other groups,” Jagdeo said.
More than a week ago, Jagdeo claimed that someone implicated in a “cocaine in pepper sauce” bust was a major financier of the AFC. The president also accused the AFC of using money obtained from unlawful means to hire American political consultant Dick Morris for its 2006 general elections campaign, questioning how the party could afford his services. 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 party swiftly condemned Jagdeo for the statements, calling it an attempt to divert attention from the fallout of the Clico (Guyana) crisis.
“Wasn’t it interesting how panicked they were when they were fingered?” Jagdeo asked, while adding that he “had a good laugh” when he saw the party’s statement.
Last week, AFC leader Raphael Trotman dubbed the claims “totally false and reckless,” while noting that Morris provided voluntary services as a political consultant to the party in 2006 and had stated so publicly at the time. “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,” he declared. He reiterated that 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 added.
He also said the AFC wrote 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 (DEA). Trotman added 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.