Ramjattan cautions govt…“Stop dilly-dallying with Linden”
The Alliance for Change (AFC) wants the government to stop “dilly-dallying” on issues that would lead to a resolution of the unrest in Linden.
The party’s leader Khemraj Ramjattan maintains that the issues which the Lindeners are agitating about are reasonable demands that could be met.
The government is insisting that “normalcy” be returned to the town.
“I don’t know what normalcy he (the President) is talking about. Has he defined that?” Ramjattan asked yesterday, responding to the suggestion coming from officials of President Donald Ramotar’s office.
Lindeners say they will persist with their protest until their demands are met, and as far as Ramjattan is concerned, the government is being stubborn and wants to drag out a resolution of the issue. Ramjattan says Lindeners are the ones who are making just demands and not the government.
“The President and his government must budge,” Ramjattan stated yesterday.
Key among the demands for Lindeners are that the electricity rate hike, which sparked the protest, be withdrawn, that the town’s TV station be surrendered by the state, and that the President take his hands off land selection in Region Ten and put it in the hands of representatives of all the parliamentary political parties.
Important too is the setting up of the Commission of Inquiry into the deaths of three Lindeners on July 18, the first day of what was a planned five-day protest.
Ramjattan said that agreement on Terms of Reference and the naming of members to the Commission is taking too long. He said that while the AFC maintains that the Commission should be made up of international experts, and has recently offered suggestions on who could constitute the commission, it is not a matter to be delayed.
He insisted “it is the government that has to make the call, and if it is that they want only a component of the Commission to be international then they should please proceed”.
He said that the right of protest is enshrined in the constitution.
“Even if Ramjattan went up there and organised the thing, what is wrong with that? It is the exercise of a constitutional right,” he stated.
Therefore, he said the exercise of a constitutional right should have no place in an inquiry into the death of the three Lindeners.
But even with the Commission not yet in place, Ramjattan expressed shock that the Police investigation has not progressed and that the Policemen who were at the scene at the time all continue in the Force, and no one has been arrested or interdicted from duty.
Another AFC executive, Dominic Gaskin, said that the party notes with concern the tone of the most recent condemnations, by members of the Governing party, of the criminal burning of buildings in the town of Linden, most notably the primary school at One Mile, Wismar.
“For the many citizens of Guyana whose access to information other than that being broadcast by NCN is fairly limited, there was an impression created that the burning of the school and other buildings was being condoned by the people of Linden and their leaders, both spiritual and political.
“In this regard the AFC was also singled out and the party wishes to repeat, yet again, that we unreservedly and unequivocally condemn this and all other deliberate destruction of property. We urge NCN to visit the community of Linden to solicit the views of the people of Linden and to broadcast those views to the rest of Guyana,” Gaskin stated.
He said that what was disturbing was the suggestion by one Minister that leaders who do not condemn those acts of arson thereby lend their tacit support to the perpetrators, and may as well have struck the matches themselves.
“Did NCN up to the time of that broadcast on Sunday evening seek to obtain comments from anyone other than Government officials on the burning of the One Mile Primary School? The AFC notes yet again the contempt and disrespect shown by NCN not only towards the people of Linden but towards all Guyanese,” Gaskin stated.