Office of the President urges public to snub ‘farcical’ civil society event

The Office of the President last evening urged the public to separate itself from the Guyana National Civil Society Summit scheduled to open today saying that the organizer Phillip Mozart Thomas is a shady character with questionable international connections.

It was noted too that OP is unaware of the existence of the umbrella body, Guyana National Civil Society Council.

“The public is urged to disassociate itself from this farcical event and not to participate”, the statement said.

Phillip Mozart Thomas
Phillip Mozart Thomas

Over the past few days there have been full page paid advertisements in the daily newspapers not only announcing the opening of the Summit at the International Conference Centre, Liliendaal but also listing a number of persons nominated to sit on the council and advisory board.

What may have prompted the issuing of the OP statement was a public notice which listed the names of the president, Speaker of Parliament and a number of Members of Parliament from each of the three parliamentary groups who were sent invitations to attend a Cordon Sanitaire as part of the activities during the three-day event.

Thomas in an invited comment last night said that he doesn’t know the person that has been described in the OP release. “I don’t represent that person. It is not me they are talking about. Trust me…” he said to Stabroek News while adding that OP has embarked on a fear-mongering campaign. He said that they have done what they did because of the invitation to the Cordon Sanitaire as it is probably felt that given the political atmosphere in the country, representatives of the parliament must not be in the same sphere.

OP in its statement said that it wishes to advise that information has come to its attention informing that an organization calling itself “the Guyana National Civil Society Council” will be sponsoring a so called Guyana National Civil Society Summit.

“The Office of the President wishes to advise that it is unaware of the existence and of the locus standi of the organization in Guyana. Mr. Phillip Mozart Thomas, the organizer behind the activity has been found to be of a shady character”, it read.

The statement said that many persons and organizations whose names have appeared either as speakers or to whom invitations were sent are unaware of the reason why their names were publicized giving the impression that they are supportive of the event when this is not the case.

OP stated that it has been brought to its attention that qualifications Thomas purports to possess are “highly suspicious. Research has revealed that the institutions where Mr. Thomas purported to have received his qualifications are unknown institutions and lack well established bona fides”.

It was stated further that Thomas is known to have leanings in favour of the People’s National Congress (PNC) and A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) . “He was one of the aspirants who had publicly declared an interest in replacing Mr. Robert Corbin as Leader of the PNC. As we all know Mr. David Granger managed to distance all the `wannabees’ including Mr. Thomas”.

The release said that Thomas is “known to have questionable international connections” with funding being given to him for the purpose of the Summit.

Thomas during the telephone conversation with Stabroek News last night said that the words uttered by OP are “nefarious at best” and should not have been uttered. While noting that he has tried to distance himself from the influence of the political system, Thomas said that he expected this sort of behaviour as he knew there would be individuals who would try to stop or interfere in the holding of the event.

He said that this event is one in which all can “discuss what we have done to ourselves and how we have influenced the state of where we are today”. He noted that the movement is aiming to have a process where everyone from the bottom up is included and can have a say in matters of concern to civil society.

Thomas stressed that what has been said by OP is untrue while noting that “none of them can stand up to my distinctions and qualifications”. He denied that he had any sort of relations with Corbin or Granger in the fight for succession in the PNC or APNU. He said that his only inclusion in political process had to do with succeeding Desmond Hoyte. Since 2002 he has refrained from participating in the political process.

He expressed confidence that there will be a grand turnout today as people would chose to disregard the utterances coming from OP.

The invitation to persons who have been nominated as representatives of the council stated that the Summit involved representatives from over 400 Guyanese national and international civil society and Non-Government Organizations convening to “implement a paradigm shift and transition into a new dispensation of a culture of peace, lawfulness and happiness”.

It stated that emerging from the summit will be the Council whose representatives will be mandated to speak with one voice in representing the collective interest of civil society in accordance with Article 13 of the Constitution.

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