Sep 06, 2012 News
“It is a fact that no other former president other than Jagdeo demitted office with an increase in his asset base of in excess of 1000%. None. Presidents Desmond Hoyte, Cheddi Jagan and Janet Jagan left office with the same assets with which they assumed the office.”
The circumstances under which former President Bharrat Jagdeo acquired his two-acre plot of land at Sparendaam, East Coast Demerara, is an issue of accountability and not security, the Alliance For Change (AFC) insisted yesterday.
According to the Parliamentary opposition party, the fact that Jagdeo has demitted office does not prevent him for being accountable for his “acts” and “omissions” when he was President of Guyana.
Over the weekend, the party got into a bruising public battle with the ruling People’s Progressive Party/Civic during a segment of the corruption debates on NCN’s Channel 11.
During the live debate, AFC’s Chairman, Nigel Hughes argued that it is evident that Jagdeo garnered more wealth than any other president in Guyana.
Government on Tuesday came out heavily in defence of the right of Jagdeo to his sprawling home, and blasted an aerial shot of the seaside compound, equipped with pool and all, which was published by Kaieteur News. According to the government, quoting an unknown, unnamed senior police officer, the publication was a breach of security.
The government statement even contemplated “legal proceedings” over the publication.
Yesterday, the AFC hit back, citing the case of former British Prime Minister, Tony Blair who was made the subject of and compelled to testify at the inquiry into his involvement in taking Britain into the Iraq war after he left office.
“There must be no immunity of persons after they demit office,” said AFC. The party has seven seats in the National Assembly.
Lawyers and police officials yesterday noted that there is no law that they are aware of that prevents members of the public from taking photos of the homes of anyone, be it public officials or otherwise.
“The era of ‘Google Earth’ has long removed the concept of privileged locations immune from public scrutiny. Even the royal family (England) has suffered more invasive intrusions into their personal life.”
In addition to this, there are thousands of photos on the net of the homes of public officials, including present and former Presidents.
Jagdeo’s sale of a house in Goedverwagting, East Coast Demerara, while he was in office, for a whopping US$600,000 ($120M) had raised eyebrows.
There were criticisms when an entire area off north Sparendaam was cleared and plots of lands were sold to several government officials in somewhat secret circumstances. An antenna belonging to the NCN had to be moved at enormous expense across the river to La Parfaite Harmonie, West Bank Demerara, to facilitate a posh new housing area catering to a chosen few.
Together with a controversial pension package for former Presidents that was passed under the tenure of Jagdeo, the opposition had been highly critical.
AFC said yesterday that there should be clear explanations about matters that concern the taxpayers of Guyana.
“The Alliance For Change maintains that there must be no ambiguities in the law and the benefits that are given to Jagdeo or any former president must be clearly identified both in description and in quantity so as to avoid the abuse of power which was not unknown to the Jagdeo regime.”
AFC said that Jagdeo is accountable for his actions.
“The fact that President Jagdeo has demitted office does not prevent him from being accountable for his acts and omissions while he acted as President. Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair was made the subject of and compelled to testify at the inquiry into his involvement in taking Britain into the Iraq war after he left office. There must be no immunity of persons after they demit office.”
According to the party, for government to “defend Jagdeo and attempt to spin the newspaper’s coverage into some kind of security breach is totally ludicrous”.
AFC also said yesterday that it has taken note, with amusement, of the attempts by “the usual suspects” to shift focus off the evidence of corruption highlighted by its Chairman, attorney-at-law, Nigel Hughes, during the “NCN so-called debate”.
“What Hughes did was to highlight the fact that former President Bharrat Jagdeo left office a considerably more wealthy person than when he first took office… a feat not achieved by any of his predecessors. It is a fact that no other former president other than Jagdeo demitted office with an increase in his asset base of in excess of 1000%. None. Presidents Desmond Hoyte, Cheddi Jagan and Janet Jagan left office with the same assets with which they assumed the office.”
The party also slammed statements by Minister of Labour, Dr. Nanda Gopaul, which “suggested that somehow once one is afforded the privilege of being elected to the High Office of President of this Republic, the person must “fix” himself up”.
“This is repugnant and must be rejected by all right thinking citizens,” the AFC said.
“The privilege of being president is about service to the country and not about enriching oneself.
It is a matter of considerable significance that despite being afforded several opportunities to indicate where citizens of Guyana can purchase an acre of ocean front property for $5M, the goodly doctor and the Attorney General were unable to provide the citizenry with any answer.”
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