September 29, 2016

PNC mum on Report’s findings

Rodney CoI

The People’s National Congress (PNC) has chosen to remain tight-lipped on the details of the findings of the Commission of Inquiry (CoI), which probed the circumstances that led to the death of Working People’s Alliance (WPA) co-founder, Dr Walter Rodney.

PNC General Secretary Oscar Clarke

PNC General Secretary Oscar Clarke

The party, which held the reins of power during the period Dr Rodney met his demise, has been accused of causing his death, a move it was hoped would silence his mounting criticisms of the dictatorial leadership of the day.
PNC General Secretary Oscar Clarke, when contacted on Tuesday, refused to comment on the findings of the probe.
“I don’t make comments on newspaper reports, when the General Secretary of the People’s National Congress gets a copy of the Report, I will make a comment,” he said before ending the call.
Clarke’s refusal to comment has come although the party’s leader, President David Granger has already pronounced on the findings of the Report. The President, however, did not speak on behalf of the party, but the A Partnership for National Unity/ Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) Government. Critics say that the comments by the Head of State could not represent Government, since it was not the APNU/AFC coalition that was accused of Rodney’s death, but the PNC.
Almost a week following the leaked circulation of the 25-page document, President Granger, when questioned by Guyana Times on the findings, expressed disappointment with the Report, saying that it was highly flawed. He said the three-member panel, headed by Barbados Queen’s Counsel Sir Richard Cheltenham, had relied too much on hearsay evidence, particularly from a convict, and had failed to garner the relevant evidence from persons who were really there at the time of the incident. He said Government was going to challenge the findings of the investigation.
Throughout the 17-month long CoI, which was also heard by Jamaican Queen’s Counsel Jacqueline Samuels-Brown and Trinidad-based Guyanese Senior Counsel Seenath Jairam, the PNC had been pointed at as the major player behind Rodney’s death.
The Report, which became public some three weeks ago after being leaked, stated that given all the relevant facts, events and circumstances set out, Commissioners could do nothing else but establish that William Gregory Smith was not acting alone but had the active and full support, participation and encouragement of, and/or was aided and abetted by the Guyana Police Force (GPF); the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) – both agencies of the State – and the political directorate, including Prime Minister Forbes Burnham, in the killing of Dr Rodney.
Rodney, a globally-respected political and social activist, died on June 13, 1980, after a walkie-talkie he was examining exploded in his lap.
It was the theory of those close to the founding WPA leader that the man he had somewhat come to trust, Smith, a then GDF Sergeant and communication expert, had planted an explosive into the device Rodney was expected to test.
It was claimed too that the Government of the day, the PNC and its leader, Burnham, had used Smith to carry out the attack.
President Granger is yet to make an official declaration of the findings.

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