– says cost of COI might exceed US$ 1M
The People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) is contending that government, instead of allocating unlimited financial resources to the Walter Rodney Commission of Inquiry (CoI), should put the money towards initiatives that will benefit the people of Guyana.
This was the focus of a press conference the Party held on Friday last at Congress Place.
Leader of the PNCR, David Granger said, that the People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPPC)’s motivation and manipulation of the Commission of Inquiry into the death of Walter Rodney, has been exposed as a plot to provoke resentment against the PNCR rather than to pursue the truth.
Granger said that the PNCR is of the opinion that the PPPC deliberately waited over twenty years until the onset of Local Government or General and Regional Elections to convene the COI.
He contended, “It now seeks to divert public attention from the prevalent problems of crime, corruption, incompetence and internal conflict within its own ranks.”
Granger said that his Party, at all times, was in full agreement with the need to inquire into the circumstances under which Dr. Rodney died. He said however, that the Party is dismayed with the manner in which the Commission has proceeded.
The politician said that the PNCR maintains its objection to number four (4) of the Terms of Reference, which directs the Commission’s attention to examining and reporting on the actions of the State and its arms, to determine whether they were tasked with the surveillance of the political opposition from 1978 to 1980.
He added that the Party is concerned about the extension of time and increase in expense for the Commission.
Granger noted that the COI was convened in February 2014 and was directed to submit its report within four months. That time has expired and was clumsily extended. He said that the cost of the COI to the national treasury, in the end, might exceed US$ 1M.
In addition, Granger said that the PNCR cannot bring itself to agree with the Commission’s acceptance of hearsay evidence.
As he maintained that statements by some witnesses have been speculative and are unacceptable in any legal setting, Granger said that this has opened the floodgates for accusations and insinuations without any evidential basis but which have the potential to permanently damage personal reputations.
The Party leader also lamented the impartiality of the Inquiry’s Commissioners.
He said that his Party remains dissatisfied about the involvement of Chairman of the Commission Sir Richard Cheltenham and Commission member, Seenauth Jairam.
Granger added that he sees this as a campaign strategy by the government. He noted too that the daily hearings have been reduced to a soap opera special, where citizens tune in for entertainment.
Lead Counsel for the PNCR at the Commission, Basil Williams told the media that the COI remains open ended and is not likely to reveal the truth in relation to the circumstances under which Dr. Rodney died.
Williams said that the only witness to the explosion that killed Dr. Rodney was his brother, Donald Rodney. He said that the surviving Rodney along with former Crime Chief Cecil ‘Skip’ Roberts and former Army Chief Norman McLean should be brought to give testimony, after which hearings should conclude.
Williams expressed his belief that the COI has spent too much time dealing with the political atmosphere and climate at the time, instead of seeking out the direct truth in relation to Rodney’s unnatural death.
The PNCR Chairman questioned if the Commission would run forever as the government seems to “have unlimited time and unlimited funds to continue.”
He said that the money can be put to better uses like the rehabilitation of roads, drainage and irrigation.
Over the last four months of hearings, allegations claiming PNC’s involvement in Rodney’s death have been loud and several.
The PNCR has since rejected these claims; reasoning that they are unsupported.
Granger recently told the media that the PNCR, despite the manifest deficiencies which have become evident over the past five months, remains committed to the pursuit of the truth about the circumstances under which Dr. Walter Rodney died.
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