Opposition parties will be ‘flexible’ on participation when parliament resumes

As they continue to press for an international inquiry into government’s alleged links with a confessed drug trafficker, the opposition parties would be “flexible” on their participation when parliamentary work resumes.

Both the PNCR and the AFC withdrew participation from sittings of the National Assembly prior to the parliamentary recess, as they embarked on protests for an investigation into the alleged link between Health Minister Dr Leslie Ramsammy and Roger Khan, based on evidence led at the trial of Khan’s former lawyer.

According to PNCR leader Robert Corbin, his party would determine its participation based on the agenda for the parliament. “We will determine as the case arises, from time to time, what is in our most strategic interest,” he explained, later adding, “So we will want to have a flexible position as to what we do, once it is consistent with forcing the government to agree to an international inquiry.”

Last month, AFC Leader Raphael Trotman said his party would make its decision known as the date for the resumption of parliamentary work approaches.

He noted that the party sees the National Assembly as a place of value, albeit one that loses that lustre from time to time. “What I will not say is that we will never be going back to parliament,” he emphasised, adding that the party has a legislative agenda that includes a Freedom of Information Bill as well as questions.

Ramsammy was identified as having links to Khan by both US government witnesses and the defence at the recently concluded trial of Robert Simels.

The revelations in the court flowed primarily from the testimony of Selwyn Vaughn, a paid US informant who said he was a member of Khan’s ‘Phantom Squad.’

Meanwhile, calling the government’s alleged ties to Khan one example of many excesses by the administration Corbin on Friday noted that “united and consistent” action is essential to ensure they are brought to an end. He explained that public opinion, even in the face of glaring discrimination, abuse of power by officials and inappropriate behaviour, seemed to be of no concern to the government. “That the [Bharrat] Jagdeo administration behaves in this manner is a result of their confidence that they can keep Guyana racially polarised to their political advantage,” he argued. He said it is for this reason that the party supported the decision for a joint opposition effort to “collectively deal with the atrocities” of the regime.

Corbin also disclosed that at Linden last Wednesday, the Joint Opposition held a second public forum to sensitise the public on the issues surrounding their call for an international inquiry. In addition to Corbin, there were presentations by the WPA’s Desmond Trotman, the AFC’s Raphael Trotman, the NFA’s Keith Scott and GAP’s Everall Franklin. Corbin added that the efforts of the joint opposition parties on the issue would continue.

In addition to Vaughn, who told jurors that Khan had connections to the government through Ramsammy, Peter Myers, the Co-director of UK firm Smith Myers, testified under oath that spy equipment later found in the possession of Khan was sold by the company’s Florida sales office through the Fort Lauderdale-based Spy Shop to the Guyana government. Meyers, who identified the equipment in court, said it was only sold to governments.

Simels’ defence identified Ramsammy as the purchaser of the equipment on behalf of the government.

Recently a letter surfaced purportedly showing that the minister confirmed government’s support for the acquisition of the equipment.

The letter is the first piece of physical evidence that implicates the minister. However, both the government and Ramsammy have continually denied the allegation.

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