While condemning the murder of political activist Courtney Crum-Ewing, President Donald Ramotar yesterday instructed the police to find whoever is responsible.
Ramotar also signaled his concern at Crum-Ewing’s death being labelled a political assassination, saying it could be construed as instigation for violence.
Crum-Ewing, 40, was gunned down by a group of men in a car shortly after 8PM on Tuesday as he walked along a street in the Diamond, East Bank Demerara community where he lived. At the time, he was urging persons to come out and vote at the upcoming May 11th general elections so that the PPP/C could be removed from office.
For weeks, he had staged a one-man protest outside of the office of Attorney General Anil Nandlall calling for his resignation over his controversial statements made during a recorded conversation with a Kaieteur News reporter that was later made public.
Ramotar, during his feature address yesterday at the opening ceremony of the Police Officers’ Annual Conference, commented on the murder. He said that he “outrightly condemned that action” and later called on the police to “leave no stone unturned in finding those who perpetuated this crime.”
Ramotar also urged officers “to find the intellectual authors of this criminal act that was committed,” if there are any.
He said he was making these comments because people are already making statements that Crum-Ewing’s murder is the “first political assassination….” He said that if persons have information they ought to come forward and share it with the police. “The police must deal with this matter, otherwise what they are saying could be construed as being instigation and want to instigate violence in our country. They must come to the organisation that is responsible and let them deal with this issue,” he said.
Senior police officers yesterday insisted that they are actively investigating the matter and expressed optimism that they will make a breakthrough.
The APNU+AFC coalition has since called for an impartial investigation of the murder and it has also issued a call for calm at this time.
The Ministry of Home Affairs has also condemned the murder. In a statement issued within a few hours of the crime, it said the minister has given orders to the Commissioner of Police to take immediate action with a view to getting to the bottom of the murder through the most thorough investigation.
Although the Home Ministry said it was too early to draw any specific conclusion or motive in connection with the murder, it inexplicably noted a coincidence between the fatal shooting and the earlier swearing in of the new Commissioner of Police.
Speaking yesterday, Ramotar also once more accused the opposition of not putting the country first. “I would like to take the opportunity to appeal to everyone, whether they are in government or opposition, to strengthen our security in this country. We cannot continue to have opposition for the sake of having opposition,” he said.
Ramotar emphasised that there is no other way to explain the voting down of the anti-money laundering bill by the opposition but to say that the country “is being put at danger.” Both opposition forces had insisted on his administration assenting to legislation passed in the opposition-controlled house and the setting up of the long delayed Public Procurement Commission, among other demands, as prerequisites for their support of the bill.
Ramotar said that by virtue of their actions in the National Assembly, the opposition parties created the perception that they want to turn the country into a haven for international criminal activities.
“That is unacceptable. That can’t be politics as usual. That is creating a terrible situation for the people of our country,” he said.
He also questioned the motives behind the opposition publicly calling on the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) to prevent the allocation of money for the Citizens Security Project. “US$15M are being threatened and this is to strengthen the police force and the prison service and community-based initiatives to deal with the root cause of crime. This must not be disrupted.
This cannot be politics,” he said. (Opposition party WPA—a constituent of APNU—has urged the IDB to ‘tread carefully” on making loans to the government on the eve of national elections and has voiced concerns over funds being misused for electioneering.)
Ramotar added that it should be ensured that the security forces have both the laws and the wherewithal to fight crimes. “I appeal to that because what I am seeing surely cannot be good politics,” he stressed.
He also urged that following the conclusion of the upcoming polls, “the environment must be sustained and all political parties contesting the elections must pledge their support to the Guyana Police Force and the Joint Services. They must appeal to their constituency and their staff to display maturity and patriotism to demonstrate to the world that we are a progressive and a responsible people.”