A Party for National Unity (APNU) member Rupert Roopnaraine last night pledged the political grouping’s support for the private media in Guyana, in view of the attacks by President Bharrat Jagdeo, though he also accused this newspaper of being biased.
“I want to say from this APNU platform that we stand in solidarity with the media workers of Guyana and especially the young media workers who must not be intimidated…,” Roopnaraine, who was the keynote speaker at the group’s Linden rally last night, said.
Hundreds of Lindeners converged on Burnham Drive, Wismar, having braved the heavy downpours to lend their support to the rally. The public activity got under way approximately one hour after the scheduled 6 pm start. Thick black clouds hovered over the town and at one point it appeared as though this would have had a negative effect on the turnout of residents for the rally. However, as the night grew older and as the rains continued to pour down, the crowd increased considerably.
Among those addressing the gathering were several Lindeners including Charles Sampson, young Sharma Solomon, and Member of Parliament Vanessa Kissoon, along with Deborah Backer and Aubrey Norton.
Loud applause rang out as Roopnaraine, while delivering the feature address, pledged that APNU would stand with the media against the attacks by Jagdeo. He said he was not taking the stand in support of media workers because he felt they were particularly kind to the APNU. “There are many things that we seem to complain about in relation to the media treatment of APNU,” he said. “You know if [AFC Leader Raphael] Trotman sneeze on Monday, Stabroek News would have the headline on Tuesday – ‘Trotman sneeze last night’.”
He said the newspapers have “their own axes to grind” and over the last three or four weeks APNU has issued a stream of policy proposals dealing with education, security and the economy that have not been made public via the media.
He said that when speaking of the people in the media he thinks particularly of the young persons in the communication faculty at the University of Guyana who are vying to become journalists. “What kind of message are you sending to young people when the president of the country can be breathing fire and brimstone and attacking journalists and calling them names? It is disgraceful behaviour and Jagdeo should not be allowed to forget,” he said.
Touching on other issues, Roopnaraine said that with a few weeks left before elections, APNU has a number of matters outstanding with the Guyana Elections Commission (Gecom). He alluded to the stand taken against the closing of CNS channel 6, which had the potential of abusing the rights of the electorate by denying them the right to information adding that Gecom needed to take a stand on the matter. He also said that APNU would not slacken in its effort to ensure equal access on the state owned National Communications Network (NCN).
Roopnaraine also called for the immediate resignation of Head of the Presidential Secretariat Dr Roger Luncheon and a number of permanent secretaries. He said there are illegalities taking place involving Luncheon who has been on the platform of the PPP/C. “This is illegal. Roger Luncheon is a senior public servant [he] has no right to be on an election platform and we are demanding tonight that Roger Luncheon must immediately resign.”
Backer addressed issues of national security. And like other colleagues, she referred to the monopoly by NCN, which is felt more by residents of Linden. The three channels available to residents of the town are all controlled by NCN.
Carl Greenidge spoke of the economic policies that APNU will undertake in the revitalization of Guyana. He also pinpointed the avenues of job creation. Solomon’s presentation was particularly directed to the youths. He appealed to them not to be fooled by small tricks and bribes and to be firm in their decisions when casting their votes.