Aug 08, 2017 News
The Alliance For Change (AFC), the smaller faction in the coalition Government, is standing by the performance of Public Security Minister, Khemraj Ramjattan.
A motion to this effect was unanimously approved by the AFC on Saturday at the Georgetown Club when the party held its third National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting.
The meeting was attended by representatives from all administrative regions, the Diaspora, Youth For Change (YFC), Women For Change (WFC), the elected leadership and national executives, AFC explained.
It was during the meeting that the issue of Ramjattan, the party’s former leader, came up.
“A motion was unanimously approved that the party reposes its full and complete confidence in its chairman, Khemraj Ramjattan, as Minister of Public Security.”
The motion, AFC said, followed events of July 9th when a major fire at the Camp Street jail and escape of a number of high profile prisoners occurred.
Ramjattan has been under pressure after another embarrassing incident at the Lusignan jail where several prisoners escaped via a tunnel. While the majority of those prisoners were recaptured, there have been calls for Ramjattan to step down.
AFC acknowledged that the incidents at the prisons have brought national focus and attention on the public security sector. However, the party noted that despite the challenges, public order has been maintained, and that the recapture of most of the escaped prisoners was done in a relatively short period of time and largely without incident.
“The motion specifically noted the decades- long historical and systemic difficulties relating to the public security sector.”
The AFC’s meeting also saw its youth arm appealing for a review of the laws relating to marijuana possession.
“The case was presented by YFC President, Cynthia Rutherford, who pressed the party’s leadership to lobby for reform of the laws on this matter.
“During extensive discussions, it was noted that the current laws result in many young people, particularly young men and numerous mothers of young children being imprisoned for possession of small quantities of marijuana, at maximum detention facilities alongside hardened criminals.”
AFC disclosed that it was agreed by the NEC that modification of the existing laws, will, among other benefits, lend to reduction of the overcrowded prison population.
“Specifically, YFC urged changes to the law as it relates to mandatory imprisonment for possession of small quantities of marijuana, an overhaul of existing guidelines for sentencing and the granting of bail for narcotics offences.”
AFC said that this issue has been championed for a number of years by party veteran, community activist and executive member Michael Carrington, who is also a Member of Parliament.
The NEC also unanimously “reaffirmed” its publicly known position that the party was and is against the parking meter contract in its current form and “until otherwise advised the party will remain in vehement disagreement” with the contract.
Party Leader, Raphael Trotman, during Saturday’s event, also detailed the countrywide outreaches executed by the party over the past three months, along with one major outreach to the New York Chapter of the party while urging the NEC members, particularly parliamentarians, to utilize the period of parliamentary recess to conduct more outreaches on coastland and in hinterland communities to strengthen and expand the party’s membership.
It was also disclosed that Political Advisor and Elder Statesman, Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo presented an extensive report to the NEC on three major advances on governance matters at the national level – Constitutional Reform, a Code of Conduct for public officials and passing of the Broadcasting Amendment Bill 2017.
“The Prime Minister emphasized that these successes formed collective evidence that the AFC was keeping its covenant with, and promise to, the people to advance these fundamental matters in the interest of all Guyanese for a modern society.”
Meanwhile, the AFC’s executives were presented with a comprehensive report on the Cummingsburg Accord.
“The NEC reaffirmed the united strength of the Coalition Government. The NEC further urged implementation of inter-coalition mechanisms for regular and routine dialogue amongst parties.”
Chairman Ramjattan, Vice Chairperson Cathy Hughes and General Secretary Marlon Williams all noted the significant successes made by the party in 2017 and urged the NEC members to continue the work at the grassroots level.
“The Regions 5 and 10 Regional Management Committees were specifically lauded for their work at the community level.”
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