The WPA OA salutes the stand taken by four board members of the Guyana National Newspapers Limited (GNNL), Bert Wilkinson, Tabitha Sarabo-Haley, Karen Davis and Ruel Johnson in resigning in protest against the firing of the two columnists Lincoln Lewis and Dr David Hinds. We cannot underestimate the importance of this principled stand by these board members, one of the more remarkable and important acts of principle over party affiliation and support for a democratic press taken in recent years. This act of courage by these Board members may be a sign of the emergence of a maturing Guyanese consciousness that party politics must not subvert the wheels of democracy. The WPA OA stands in support of all Guyanese patriots who resist the temptation of narrow party politics at the expense of the nation. We feel this is what this nation cries out for as it struggles with our historical legacy of divide and rule. The Guyana Chronicle and the company which runs the paper, the GNNL, have been subject to the whims of the specific party in power for far too long. Both the PNC and PPP/C have been blatant in rendering the Guyana Chronicle a mouthpiece of the state. We felt a turn had been achieved with the accession of the APNU+AFC administration to power, but in the recent actions of the Guyana Chronicle and its editor, the clear hand of manipulation and diktat of the state at the highest level was visible.
While an argument can be made for members to have remained on the Board as a means of struggling against a total takeover, thereby giving the dictatorial policymakers free rein in reducing the newspaper to a mouthpiece of the government, we commend their stand on this assault on the right of a free press.
Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo, under whose portfolio the Chronicle and by extension the principles of press freedom fall, owes the general public an explanation for this dire and dark decision that stabs press freedom in the back.