… says it represents democracy at work
By Gary Eleazar
“I, as leader, know that people expect that the Alliance For Change (AFC) will find a way to make it possible for an alliance of all interested and patriotic persons and groups to be in place in time for the 2011 elections…Politics is about making the impossible possible.”
This is according to Raphael Trotman of the AFC who in an interview with this newspaper said that the party at the time of its birth in 2005 promised healing and reconciliation, not division. Speaking to the decision that was made by the party’s National Executive Committee, Trotman said, “I believe that the decision of last Saturday, even though made with the best interest of the AFC at heart, can actually create more division than it does healing and from that standpoint alone, has to be placed under constant review.”
He said that the people of Guyana expect the AFC to find a way to make warring and distrustful factions divided by race and past experiences work together for the good of Guyana.
“This is a mighty expectation, but it is the one that we were expected to fulfill since 2005…I urge everyone therefore not to despair and to feel as if the battle is lost…There are still many miles to go.”
Trotman said that he had hoped for a different, less rigid decision, on shutting out the institutional parties, “but I know only too well that sometimes we don’t always get what we expect when we expect it, and in the manner that we want.”
He said that this does not mean “that we have to give up and run away but continue fighting for what we believe is just and right…It does not mean that the battle is over.”
Trotman said that he will certainly take up the invitation of persons who called and met him to vent their frustration and sometimes anger.
He said he will listen more and ask the party’s members and supporters, “to define exactly what they want to see us doing in an alliance and with whom”.
He said it is well known that himself along with others still believe that the door must be left ajar for others to be accommodated at the right time.
“While we respect the decision of the majority, we will continue to engage our members and to sound off the decision on them.”
He says that he expects soon that they will publish their promised document on “Pathways to Victory in 2011” and then truly begin to listen to the voices of the people.
“The decision of the party was one of a majority of the executive and not a unanimous one…This must be understood…Democracy within the AFC is alive and the majority will prevail but it does not mean that that will is non-responsive to the views of the people and non-responsive to change.”
Trotman says that he believes that over the next few crucial months, the people of Guyana have to speak and speak clearly as to what they expect of the AFC and all others wanting to enter into alliances for the upcoming elections.
Trotman emphasized that the AFC is mature enough for those who did not support the decision to respect it and move on with the work that has to be done.
“I have no doubt that at our upcoming Convention later in the year this matter will be put front and centre for the delegates to decide…I really would like all possible options to be available to the delegates for them to be able to make an informed decision.”
Trotman said that politics in Guyana is highly unorthodox and in a constant state of flux, “so let’s wait and see what will be the final position when the dust settles.”
He said that ultimately, he would like to see the AFC in the best alliance possible and not practice the politics of exclusion by picking and choosing who fits better and where.
“Already we have seen several individuals, civil society groups, union and farmers’ leaders and representatives, and political parties saying let us join hands together…This is a momentous happening that speaks of something awesome about to be unveiled in Guyana.”
Trotman said that he believes that, “we must guard against the appearance of being too insular in our approach to decision making generally, and alliance building in particular.”
He said that, “The concerns of feeling alienated, marginalized, and facing economic and political obliteration are not lost on me and I will continue to impress on the leadership and wider membership that we have to give special attention to every vulnerable group in Guyana.”
Trotman opined, “These are the stark realities which we cannot ignore as leaders or we may do so at our own peril…For me, we should not be involved in politics for the sake of it but because we want to represent those who are without a voice and need representation.”
He said that the frustration being experienced by all Guyanese is real and, “daily we see growing instances of dictatorial government.”
Trotman said that the most recent example is President Bharrat Jagdeo’s manner of addressing the Marriott Hotel developments whilst lambasting the Guyana Pegasus.
“People can’t stomach much more, and that is why I fully understand the frustration people feel that there is a possibility of a PPP/C victory if all willing hands are not brought onboard…We will have to expect that we make the best decisions going forward not based on what we think is best, but based solely on what we know the people think is best.”
Trotman said leaders are custodians of the people’s trust and therefore cannot be too removed or out of touch with their wishes and desires.
“In the meantime, there is much work to be done and there is no likelihood of resignation or rebellion as we continue to prepare the party for battle against the PPP/C.”
Criminalizing transfer of HIV/AIDS will erode progress made in fight – Ramsammy
Guyana Action Party’s (GAP) Everall Franklin was unsuccessful in his bid last evening in the House to have the National Assembly approve a motion that was seeking to criminalize the deliberate infection of an individual with HIV by a person who has knowledge of the fact that they are infected.
Franklin in his presentation to the House yesterday said that while people who are infected are protected under the laws of Guyana, there is need for the persons who are not infected to be equally protected from individuals who would knowingly infect others.
He said that it is the duty of the State to protect its citizens and curb the dangerous behaviour.
Franklin said that persons are charged for drinking and driving, yet the use of the sexual organ “like a loaded gun” to infect persons is still not punishable under the law.
Franklin argued that there are laws in place in other countries in the world such as Canada where there have been convictions for knowingly infecting individuals with HIV.
The GAP/ROAR Parliamentarian said that the argument that such laws in place would deter persons from being tested voluntarily is not effective, given that most cases are detected when persons are told to take the test at medical facilities when they are being treated for other ailments.
He argued that any such laws that are created must be premised on the accepted scientific data that is available.
The parliamentarian said that based on conservative figures, in Guyana for every 100,000 persons there are 1,700 persons infected and in Cuba there are only 54 persons infected in every 100,000.
He said that Guyana should not pander to the countries doling out money and preaching best practices but rather learn from Cuba which has managed to reduce its infections rates with little or no money being doled out to them.
Health Minister Dr Leslie Ramsammy said that he welcomes the motion as it provides an opportunity for a national dialogue on the issue and represents a first in the region where the National Assembly is discussing the issue. He stressed, however, that the best way to tackle the scourge in Guyana is through prevention policies, actions and treatment.
Ramsammy opined that criminalizing the transfer of HIV/AIDS will erode progress made in the fight.
The Minister said that the several programmes as it relates to the fight against infections are proving to be effective.
He said also that more and more persons are being tested voluntarily and ground is being gained in the fight.
The Minister pushed successfully for the Bill to be placed before a special select committee where there will be a national dialogue on confronting the scourge of HIV/AIDS.
Volda Lawrence who is the Shadow Human Services and Social Security Minister cautioned against introducing such laws saying that it would only backfire. She said such laws would only serve to increase the stigma and reduce testing virtually alienating infected persons and would reduce their access to treatment.
Lawrence said laws that put carry punitive measures as it relates to HIV/AIDS only slow the fight.
Alleged conspiracy lands three in court
Three men who are accused of forging a cashier’s cheque were yesterday granted bail when they appeared before Acting Chief Magistrate Melissa Robertson, at the Georgetown Magistrates’ Court.
Drepaul Persaud, 38, of Canal #2 West Bank Demerara, Nazir Gafoor, 37, of Windsor Forest West Coast Demerara and Tazim Mahdo, 39, of 22 Zeelugt West Coast Demerara all pleaded not guilty to charges ranging from conspiracy to uttering a forged document .
It is alleged that Persaud on July 21 at Annandale, East Coast Demerara, with the intent to defraud, uttered one forged bank cheque for $1.1M to Nandranie Balram, knowing that it was a fraudulent.
Another charge stated that Persaud on July 21 at Non Pareil, East Coast Demerara, uttered the same cheque to Deo.
It is further alleged that on July 21, at Non Pareil he obtained 3635 lbs of plucked chicken valuing $1.1M from Deo.
It is also alleged that the three men on July 21, at Annandale East Coast Demerara, with the intent to defraud, obtained 3135 lbs of plucked chicken from Nandranie Balram, by giving her a bounced cheque.
And the court heard that between July 20 and 21, the men conspired with each other and obtained 3135 lbs of plucked chicken from Deo and paid him with a bounced cheque for $1.1M.
Attorney at law Sasha Roberts, who presented Drepaul Persaud, applied for reasonable bail.
According to the lawyer her client is gainfully employed as a cash crop farmer. She said that Persaud was married and has four children who solely depend on him.
The lawyer noted that it was the other defendants who gave her client the bounced cheque.
Attorney at law Sonya Parag represented the other two defendants.
She said her clients have fixed places of abode and pose no flight risk.
She explained that both men maintain that they are innocent of the charges.
However Police Prosecutor Stephen Telford objected to bail, and stated that all the defendants have pending matters in court.
Both lawyers interjected and stated that even if they (clients) have matters in court that should not be a reason for refusing bail.
The magistrate placed Gafoor and Mahdo on $400,000 bail, while Persaud was placed on $600,000 bail.
They are expected to make their next court appearances on September 10 and 16, at the Vreed-en-Hoop and Vigilance Magistrates Courts respectively.
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