– lashes out at opposition, media
President Donald Ramotar on Sunday said the governing party PPP/C has no confidence in Speaker Raphael Trotman, following his decision to restrict Home Affairs Minister Clement Rohee’s participation the National Assembly.
“I say very clearly that we have no confidence in the Speaker because he took a political decision and not a legal position,” Ramotar told the 16th Triennial Congress of the Women’s Progressive Organisation (WPO) at the Diamond Secondary School to loud applause from the audience.
Contacted yesterday by Stabroek News, Trotman said he had no comment to make on Ramotar’s statement.
Trotman had last week indicated that if any party expressed no confidence in him following his ruling, he was prepared to resign, after referring a motion by Opposition Leader David Granger that seeks to gag Rohee in the National Assembly to the Committee of Privileges for report.
Although Trotman made it clear that Rohee was not before the committee but rather the motion, Ramotar accused him of trying “to sanction and prevent Comrade Rohee from speaking in the National Assembly,” by referring the matter to the Committee of Privileges.
Ramotar stated that Rohee did nothing to bring the Parliament into disrepute and the Speaker instead of taking his direction from the Constitution and the Standing Orders of the National Assembly, “took a political position….”
In his speech on the last day of the two-day congress, Ramotar also blasted the opposition and particularly the PNCR as well as sections of the media. An invitation to the media from the Government Information Agency (GINA) had said he would have spoken at 2 pm on Sunday and when this newspaper turned up before the scheduled time, his speech had already been completed and he was preparing to leave.
Ramotar reiterated that Rohee did nothing wrong, saying that the evidence that came out in the Commission of Inquiry (COI) cleared him of having any responsibility in the shooting to death of the three Lindeners. He said the opposition passed a no-confidence motion against him and even though Trotman—on the advice of counsel—ruled that he had no power to prevent the minister from speaking in Parliament, the opposition persevered.
According to Ramotar, what is happening in the National Assembly “must be a warning”. He added that people in the opposition had taken Guyana from the most developed country in the English-speaking Caribbean to the most “backward” one by 1992. In direct reference to the PNCR, Ramotar said the opposition has become so ashamed of its past that it has resorted to changing its name. The PNCR, formerly the PNC, is now represented under the coalition body of A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) in the National Assembly. It had previously contested polls on a PNCR-One Guyana platform.
“But you put a hog in a place it still remain a pig, and that is what we have, that is what we have with the opposition. But they are showing their claws. They are showing their intentions. What they are trying to do to comrade Rohee is very, very clear that these people have not lost their dictatorial ambition,” Ramotar said.
Trotman has stood by his ruling, saying it would pave the way for other parliamentary business, which has so far been held up by the impasse between the government and the opposition on Rohee.
With very little parliamentary work done at recent sittings as a result of the impasse over Rohee, the Chairman of the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) Clinton Urling last Friday criticised the situation and called for compromise.
Ramotar recalled the violence that erupted after the 1997 and 2001 elections and said that the “undemocratic forces in our society were not ready, were not ready to accept democracy in this society…”
He added that after 2001, direct links to criminal gangs were established to create destabilisation in the society, because “they felt it would bring political benefits.” He recalled that there were rampant murders in the country by the criminals.
“They were not concerned. They never came out in condemnation of those acts. Instead, they have built a monument to some of the criminals who died. This is the role model, this is the example that they want to give to our young people, criminal elements calling themselves liberation fighters,” Ramotar said, in reference to a monument dedicated to the persons killed by police in Buxton.
President Ramotar also took a swipe at some sections of the media that he said are “hell bent on trying to create conditions that would favour the undemocratic forces in the society.”
He said he wanted to remind those media entities of journalist Ricky Singh, who was moved out of Guyana because of his criticisms of the PNC regime; Rick Mentis, former editor of the Chronicle, and the newspapers Graphic and the Evening Post, both of which he said were closed down after making “mild criticisms” of the PNC government.
“I want to warn them to remember these things and to look at the dangerous game that they are playing, that they might eventually end up the victims to the undemocratic forces who they are today supporting,” he said.
He further told the WPO members that “we… have the first and principled task… to protect the gains we have made” and he said that the organisation must be an integral part of the “fight to preserve democracy in our country.”
Ramotar added that they should work to deal with every aspect and problem that affects women and they “must guard as an apple of their eye many of the laws and legislations that we have passed to see that they are implemented, to elevate women to genuine equality so that they can play a maximum role in the economic and political life of our country.”
He added, “The WPO must make its voice heard, make its voice heard against oppression and against wrong doing of any woman, any person, particularly any woman in our country who is being harassed by these forces.”
Ramotar also said that WPO should encourage women to become educated and develop their capacities so that they can have better lives. Women should also be dissuaded from becoming pregnant too young, he said, while adding that the WPO should defend women at work and fight “generally to maintain equality at every level….”
Meanwhile, the WPO, in a congress petition, extended its “unstinting support” for Rohee and pledged “to continue the struggle and support for upholding the democratic norms and practices that are necessary for the positive advancement of our society.”
It said too that congress was “deeply concerned over the vindictive, rancorous and confrontational behaviour of the opposition, APNU and AFC in collaboration with the Speaker of the National Assembly as they unveil the various elements of their anti-Rohee campaign.”