April 25, 2015

Muslim leaders never endorsed APNU/AFC

… slam coalition for “deceit”

The Anna Catherina Islamic Complex (ACIC) said its leaders never endorsed the PNC-led A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance for Change (APNU/AFC) coalition when they paid the political leaders of that party a visit on Thursday.

On Thursday, the APNU/AFC coalition via a press release said that its Presidential Candidate, Brigadier David Granger and Prime Ministerial Candidate Moses Nagamootoo, and other coalition leaders had met with prominent representatives of the Islamic Community in Guyana, noting that the meeting had taken place at the Office of the Leader of the Opposition, Hadfield Street, Georgetown.

According to the release, the group which included members of the ACIC and other religious leaders, outlined a lists of concerns facing the Muslim community in Guyana and in which, the Islamic leaders are reported to have said that it was time to put an end to the moral decay of society and for the development of Guyana to have a human face.

The Anna Catherina Islamic Complex

The Anna Catherina Islamic Complex

“In endorsing the APNU/AFC, the Muslim leaders noted that Guyana needed a fresh start, and that people were placing great expectation in the APNU/AFC,” the APNU statement said.

However, in a release to the media on Friday afternoon, Hakeem Khan, President of the ACIC, lashed out at the Opposition for using the meeting between the two entities to peddle a lie and to gain political mileage.

He noted that contrary to reports in the media, it has not endorsed the APNU/AFC coalition as reported, pointing out that he was shocked to know that the meeting with the APNU/AFC coalition has been used to interpret their presence as the ACIC endorsement for coalition.

Khan said that ACIC is Guyana’s main Islamic Centre and a centre of spirituality, education, peace, universal goodwill and harmony, and it was not and will not be used as a political institution. The man said that given the role of that organisation, it will work and support only the elected leaders of Guyana.

“We will work with the Government of the day, and of course, in much respect to the honourable members of the Opposition of the day. It has always enjoyed the blessings and support of the Government, and indeed, that of the Opposition, and all other religious, civic and non-governmental groups of the nation,” he said.

Khan said that had the APNU/AFC stated that ACIC and other Muslim Leaders had discussions and published photos, there would have been no complaints, but “ the fact that it stated our endorsement of  the party, is what we feel is most unfortunate, and causing the complex to lose it impartiality,” he said.

Khan said that as a result of the lies peddled by the APNU/AFC, its local and international partners, many of whom fund the organisation’s projects are dismayed at the supposition of an endorsement of a political party.

“We wish to make it clear that no mention was made of any endorsement as claimed.  We have respect for the APNU/AFC which always played a role at our various functions at our complex, as that was based on mutual respects and for the love of our country and people.  The Government was also extended similar invitations and courtesies. Visiting the Opposition Headquarter was an act of courtesy to communicate and seek the policies of the political party, and was never meant to give political endorsement to the party. This we are certain was recognised but we are uncertain as to how the miscommunication was issued,” he said.

He said that a delegation of ACIC and the wider Muslim community met with Prime Ministerial Candidate of the ruling party, Elisabeth Harper last week and raised a number of issues. Harper spent several hours, took photos and was in discussion for hours, but she nor her political party – the PPP/C – never used the meeting as an endorsement.

Meanwhile, Abdool Fazeel, the Imam of the ACIC, in distancing himself from the article related that “I am in no way connected, associated or in any way, shape or form, share the philosophy, ideology or political platform of the APNU/AFC.” He noted that the Opposition coalition should act in a mature and responsible way and should not use and abuse the honouring of an invitation as an endorsement.

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Mini-vans imported but not registered by May 15 will lose tax concessions

The Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) said it has noted with concern the lacklustre manner in which some taxpayers, especially auto dealers and importers, were approaching the importation, modification, and registration of certain mini vans to be used as public transportation which are registered in the “B” Series.

The GRA said in a release that based on an agreement between itself and the Guyana Police Force (GPF), small passenger type mini vans such as the Toyota Noah and the Toyota Voxy were allowed to be registered in the “B” series for use as public transportation for a period of five years. This concession was allowed on vehicles imported up to December 31, 2014.

Further, this tax concession was granted with the condition that the vehicles would have been modified to accommodate 10 persons including the driver, within two weeks from the date that the Tax Exemptions/ concessions were granted. While most of the beneficiaries have complied with this stipulation, many importers are now defaulting on this agreement. This has led to several hiccups and delays in the processing and finalisation of these concessions with the GRA’s Tax Exemptions, Processing, and Verification Division and information shared with the GPF.

Taxes due in full

As such, all importers and owners of these mini vans who would have imported such vehicles prior to December 31, 2014, are advised to have their vehicles registered on or before Friday, May 15, 2015. Any request to have these vehicles registered after May 15, will be denied by the GRA and the importer/owner will be required to pay the full difference of taxes owed to the state.

Persons should note that vehicles which have already been registered for use as public transportation will be allowed to continue operations for a maximum period of five years. Moreover, owners of these vehicles are reminded that under the terms and conditions of this agreement, they are required to submit their Income Tax Returns annually to the Post Approval Section of the Law Enforcement and Investigation Division of the GRA, to confirm that they are using the vehicle for public transportation and that they are tax compliant. Failure to comply will result in the non- issuance of future Road Service Licence and the pro-rated taxes will become due and payable.

As was previously stated, in cases where Motor Vehicles which fall under the above category were already registered by the GRA, they must be fitted with not less or more than 10 seats.

These vehicles will be examined by the GRA before any renewal of their Motor Vehicle Licences, to ensure that they are in conformity with the required standard. Persons who require additional information can contact the Tax Exemption, Processing, and Verification Division on telephone numbers: 227-6060 Ext. 3500, 3501, and 3502.

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PPP/C hammers APNU/AFC leaked manifesto

Agriculture Minister, Dr Leslie Ramsammy

Agriculture Minister, Dr Leslie Ramsammy

The People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) said the “leaked” People’s National Congress (PNC)-led A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance for Change (APNU/AFC) Manifesto was déjà vu, lacked vision and was contradictory.

Agriculture Minister, Dr Leslie Ramsammy and PPP/C candidate Clinton Urling have lambasted the coalition’s proposed plans for Guyana, which it said was prematurely released. Ramsammy said the manifesto, which included a number of projects the Opposition had failed to support in the 10th Parliament, was a platform for disaster.

“This manifesto released by the APNU/AFC takes us back to that. Instead of moving forward, the very people that ask us to forget the past, that past is being resuscitated as our development model… which means we have to practise deficit economics. They in fact articulate a model that guarantees disaster.”

Dr Ramsammy said the coalition was proposing to take the country back to a “failed, destructive past”. He said he was intrigued by the proposed 20 per cent increase for the military and 10 per cent for other public servants, yet questioned the wage bill of sugar workers.

“For us, all public servants, whether they are in the Army, the Police or teachers, all of our workers deserve pay increases. We remind the public that under the PPP Government, we have an unbroken record, where we have never failed to give an annual pay increase,” Dr Ramsammy said.

According to Ramsammy, sections of the manifesto also related the Opposition’s proposal of a massive expenditure in the face of reduced income.

PPP/C candidate Clinton Urling examined the coalition’s proposal to address tax reform. He said the Opposition has made it clear that it had never before had an interest in this area, it lacked coherence and was contradictory.

“When you look at this manifesto, you can see clearly, it looks like a very crude cut and paste job. It seems more like it is trying to obfuscate its message rather than illuminate in simple terms what are some of the solutions.” He said the manifesto provided no long-term development plan and it lacked any long-term plan where the alliance sought to deal with taxes and tax reform.

“The only promise that this manifesto has is a promise of developing a plan, only if the combined Opposition gets into power.” According to him, that raises a very “legitimate” question, about their work throughout the years as some of the proposed plans should have been already developed.

He said the Opposition, had never, even during his tenure as Chairman of the Georgetown Chamber of Industry and Commerce, approached the body with any development plan for tax reform. Another contradiction, he argued, was the coalition’s plan to have a “comprehensive review of the taxation structure”, while promising to raise the Value Added Tax (VAT) and raise the income tax threshold.

“That sends the message right away that you are not interested in genuine comprehensive, holistic review; you are being more selective than that.”

Another contradiction that is “worrying”, Urling related, is the inclusion of Public-Private Partnership (PPPs) and the alliance’s commitment, while on the same manifesto “they talk about lowering the tolls of the Berbice River Bridge”, a primary example of PPPs in Guyana. He said it was an atrocity for any government to come in and suggest price control and the possibility of reducing the toll, “you are not just talking about a Government project, you will have to consult with the Private Sector colleagues who had partnered in that initiative,” Urling said.

He continued that such a move would hinder future foreign and domestic investors from entering into such economic partnerships. Urling said the Opposition was well aware that the tolls of the Berbice River Bridge cannot be reduced “overnight”, it must go through the consultative channels with the private investors and the best economic practices.

Urling also alluded to the section of the manifesto which detailed the Opposition to “spend, spend, spend”, without sharing any initiatives that tell of plans to finance these spending. He said the youngest child would know that in order for money to be spent, it must be made. “All I see in this manifesto is that we are going to give away all these subsidies, incentives and goodies, but there is not a single talk about how we are going to make the money to do it.”

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PPP/C plans glitzy manifesto launch today at Marriott

President Donald Ramotar

President Donald Ramotar

Following months of anticipation, the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) will be officially launching its election manifesto at the newly-opened Marriott Hotel this evening.

Throughout the election campaign season, the incumbent Administration has been citing excerpts of several of the plans and policies from the manifesto that it has in store for the future development of the country over the next five years.

The importance of a party’s manifesto is buried within its policies as outlined in the document. In any democracy, a manifesto is extremely useful as it serves as a standard for measuring the performance of a Government and ensuring that it becomes accountable to the electorate based on the promises outlined in the manifesto.

The central themes of the PPP/C’s manifesto include economic growth; jobs, income and wealth creation; transformative infrastructure; enhancing the well-being of Guyanese people; fighting crimes and protecting people; fair governance; and Guyana in a modern world.

The PPP/C has, during the entire election campaigning period, boasted of presenting a wholly detailed manifesto where every aspect is interconnected and complementary to each other.

On the political platform, PPP/C officials spoke at length about the creation of jobs through the establishment of various industries and the enhancement of already existing sectors in Guyana.

From massive projects like the Amaila Falls Hydropower Project, the Specialty Hospital, the deepwater harbour, among others, the PPP/C foresees the creation of jobs in all areas.

As explained during the Party’s rallies and public meetings, these projects will create thousands of jobs directly and indirectly and will also pave the way for the creation of other businesses that will complement those projects, ultimately creating more jobs.

“Let’s say we have the road to Brazil and a truck is driving from Brazil all the way to Berbice for the Deep Water Harbour, that truck has to get washed, it has to get gas, it has to get fixed, the driver got to find a hotel to sleep in, you see all of that creates a whole new section of jobs… so now if I want to be a truck mechanic, I have the opportunity, I can go somewhere between Lethem to Linden and I set up my business. Those are local investment that bubbles up, and this is where the micro-financing comes in, you want to create a mechanic place on the highway, you come in for a loan. Those are support systems that new thinkers can now get an opportunity to become entrepreneurs,” PPP/C Candidate Peter Ramsaroop had explained.

President Donald Ramotar also outlined an extensive plan for the resuscitation of the sugar industry, which is the bedrock of the economy in Berbice.

Generally, the PPP/C maintains that its manifesto provides coverage for the betterment of all Guyanese of all walks of life.

At a recent PPP/C press conference, former President Bharrat Jagdeo was in high spirits about this launch as he urged all Guyanese to read the document, which he assured, clearly outlines the Party’s vision for taking Guyana forward.

Meanwhile, following the unofficial release of the A Partnership for National Unity/ Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) coalition’s manifesto, Jagdeo wasted no time in declaring his assessment of the document. In a statement to the media, the former Head of State described the Opposition’s manifesto as an “unimaginative” and “contradictory” document which contains several of the programmes already being pursued by the ruling PPP/C. He said in his estimation, 75 per cent of the manifesto was arbitrary ad hoc extraction of policies that the PPP/C was already pursuing, but without the strategic framework that Government has outlined in several public documents including the National Development Strategy (NDS); Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP); National Competitiveness Strategy (NCS); Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) and its five-year education plan. “Because of the absence of this framework, the APNU-AFC manifesto lacks focus. Also, some of their promises are outright preposterous and an insult to the intelligence of the Guyanese people.”

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Granger comparison with Obama insulting – Lumumba

US President Barack Obama

US President Barack Obama

Presidential Adviser on Youth Empowerment Odinga Lumumba has described as “insulting” the advertisement published in the Kaieteur News, in which US President Barack Obama is being compared to A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) Presidential Candidate David Granger.

Lumumba, speaking at the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) press conference Friday, said the move by the Opposition coalition to compare its policies with the United States’ is nothing more than a an insult to that country’s leader.

The ad declares that the PPP/C is living in the past and urges Guyanese to look towards the future. It also relates a matching quote by the US President in which he pointed out that the United States will not be imprisoned by the past, as it is looking to the future.

But Lumumba said that the two could never match up. “When I think of Obama, it’s an Obama, whose campaign and strategies and actions cut across the line of race and class; an Obama, who objected to atrocities from the time he was an adult, an Obama who would have objected to rigged elections, and to the murder of the intellectual Walter Rodney; an Obama who would have walked with Mandela and Gandhi.”

The Presidential Youth Adviser told the press that a view of Granger’s history recalls numerous atrocities and political hiccups in Guyana.

Presidential Adviser on Youth Empowerment Odinga Lumumba

Presidential Adviser on Youth Empowerment Odinga Lumumba

“If you look at Moses Nagamootoo and Khemraj Ramjattan, these were individuals who accused the PNC of murder and rigged elections, who accused the army of violating the rights of the people during elections and during that time, Mr Granger was a prominent figure in this country and not at any point in time he has objected or disagreed with those atrocities.”

US President Barack Obama

US President Barack Obama

Lumumba said that as a leader who “wants to be like the Obama of America”, he should at least apologise for those atrocities. “Nothing is wrong with saying you are sorry, nothing is wrong with saying that it should not have happened. The fact that Granger has stood silent on these matters means he was in agreement.”

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Campaign launched against street harassment

Programme Director of the Witness Project Rosheni Takechandra and Programme Manager Alysia Christani at the soft launch on Friday

Programme Director of the Witness Project Rosheni Takechandra and Programme Manager Alysia Christani at the soft launch on Friday

As the observance of Sexual Awareness Month (April) nears conclusion, the Witness Project on Friday launched its anti-street harassment campaign in its fight to end the cycle of violence against women.

The campaign is titled “It’s Not A Compliment” as it seeks to put an end to street harassment, which has become a growing problem in the Guyanese society.

The Witness Project Director Rosheni Takechandra said that through the campaign they are aiming to make a strong statement against street harassment and reach out to the wider society by raising awareness through public interaction.

The Project Director outlined that they will be taking the campaign to crowded places where persons can interact, and learn more about the issue. She added that posters will be erected across Guyana.

“Women will no longer stay silent on matters that concern their safety and freedom of expression in public spaces. This campaign is using marketing strategies and the arts to give women and girls a platform to make their voices heard. It is giving women and girls a space to work side by side with decent men to bring an end to the vile and worthless act of street harassment,” the she explained.

Takechandra further disclosed that they have collaborated with the Education Ministry to take the campaign to every school. “So the schools will become another stage where we can entertain such discussions and we know that you don’t change behaviours overnight but we can start influence the way people think about their behaviours and the more you educate a population the more, you start to become responsible for your actions,” she stated.

Meanwhile, Project Manager and US-born Guyanese, Alysia Christani, pointed out that street harassment is not a one-sided conversation as such they need to engage and assess this “obnoxious” behaviour of males in society. However, she noted that this would not be an easy task, since they do not expect young men, in fact all men, to embrace the idea.

“What we need to do is talk to the people who are approaching this behaviour, not in the way that humiliates them but to try to understand where it’s coming from, and educate them on why this needs to change. We just need to get the conversation started and go on from there,” remarked Christani.

The Project Manager noted that street harassment is not just a Guyanese issue but a global one that has become a culture for men to utter degrading and unwarranted comments at women in public places. “So what we are trying to do is to educate and raise awareness that this is a problem. It is an invasion of my space and it makes me uncomfortable. It’s not cute, it’s creepy, it actually makes me feel scary,” she stated.

Christani explained that street harassment is a form of sexual harassment and often leads to violence against women since rejected men become aggressive toward women who shun them.

According to the Project Manager, the campaign will be rolled out in three aspects. First, there will be several street art activities, where anti-street harassment posters will be erected at business and public buildings depicting women’s reaction to demeaning remarks from men.

The second phase, she stated, will see particularly the youth members of the Witness Project engaging the public by handing out flyers and starting conversations on the issue, while the posters are being erected. Then, there will be an online interaction community where victims, witnesses and perpetrators of street harassment are invited to share their stories and take part in discussions aimed at educating the public on the matter, Christani explained.

The Witness Project, which is an initiative of the US-Based Margaret Clemons Foundation, will be launched today at Nations University where the first set of posters will be put up. The striking oversized posters feature women and girls reacting to commonly used catcalls.

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Cellphone technician accused of stealing phones

Malcolm Harry

Malcolm Harry

A cellphone technician was placed on $75,000 bail on Friday by Chief Magistrate Priya Sewnarine-Beharry at the Georgetown Magistrates’ Courts after he appeared before her charged with simple larceny.

Malcolm Harry, 26, of 129 Stewartville, West Coast Demerara, pleaded not guilty to the charge, which read that between March 15 and April 18, he stole five smartphones, property of Virtual Complainant (VC) Kwame Sinclair, who is his former employer.

Police Prosecutor Shawn Gonsalves informed the court that the VC had noticed that a number of smartphones had gone missing during a period of time and decided to do some investigating of his own. It was explained that Sinclair placed a cellphone on top of a display case. The VC then left his laptop computer facing the phone and left the webcam video recorder on. Sometime later when the man reviewed the footage he discovered Harry stealing the said phone. A report was made to the Police and an investigation was conducted. The defendant was subsequently arrested and charged with the offence.

The prosecution made no objections to bail and the matter was scheduled to return to court on June 1 for statements.

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PSC concerned over elections hostility

PSC Chairman Ramesh Persaud

PSC Chairman Ramesh Persaud

The Private Sector Commission (PSC) has written to the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) coalition and the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) to express its concerns over the seemingly escalating hostility with which candidates and supporters of the major political parties are reacting to each other.

Speaking to media operatives on Friday at PSC’s office, the Chairman Ramesh Persaud said the commission is of the opinion that this is an unfortunate and potentially dangerous development, and believes that all parties must accept responsibility for this situation.

He noted that all political parties should be reminded that regardless of the outcome of the elections, the country must be governed and governable in their aftermath.

“We would like to urge the leaders of the PPP/C and the APNU/AFC to confront and defeat this trend by coming together to make a joint statement which condemns all or any form of hostile behaviour and calls for tolerance on the part of each citizen, regardless of political persuasion. The commission believes that the opportunity to lead a political party is a trust which is inviolable and sacrosanct. We therefore expect our political parties to act in a manner which will ensure a peaceful and non-violent election,” Persaud said.

Elections Observers

Additionally, the PSC urged the major political parties to sign onto the Political Parties Code of Conduct, as soon as possible, so that their behaviours on the political platform can be guided. The commission has also called on the parties to desist from utilising hate speech and languages of fear mongering on their elections campaign since it is believed to be unnecessary.

On the other hand, the Commission has said that while it is particularly pleased that several local and international observer missions will be here to overlook the elections process, it was even more elated that the Carter Centre has chosen to send a mission here. The PSC also announced that it will be observing the elections with a team of about 35 persons as well as establishing a communications centre at its headquarters on the day to partner and share necessary information with the media.

The PSC said as the voice of the business community it remains committed to the cause of ensuring that elections 2015 are peaceful, free, fair and credible.

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Police Officer charged with conspiring to traffic narcotics

Police Officer Norrell Hyman

Police Officer Norrell Hyman

A Police officer was placed on $500,000 bail on Friday at the High Court on a charge of conspiring to traffic narcotics.

Norrell Hyman, 22, of 47 De Kindren, West Bank Demerara, pleaded not guilty to the charge which was first read to him by Chief Magistrate Priya Sewnarine-Beharry in the Georgetown Magistrates’ Courts. The charge stated that on Monday, April 13 on the East Bank of Demerara, he conspired to traffic two suitcases containing 9.670 kilograms of cocaine.

According to Police Prosecutor Steven Telford, the defendant is a Police officer affiliated with the Customs Anti-Narcotic Unit (CANU). He stated that on the day of the incident, a man identified as Arthur Manget was detained at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport for attempting to traffic the said quantity of illicit substance, which was in hidden compartments of the suitcases.

It was explained that an investigation was conducted during which Manget alleged that the defendant joined the car which was transporting him to the airport at Land of Canaan. The prosecutor stated that the man further alleged that the defendant took his photo with a cellular phone stating that he would be sending it to someone so that the man could go through the airport security safely without being discovered.

Defence Attorney Adrian Thompson stated that his client denied the allegations and was never in the car. He said that the allegations made by someone charged with narcotics trafficking in no way implicated his client. Thompson highlighted the fact that even if his client was in the car, it was alleged that he was picked up at one point and dropped off at another point some distance away from the airport and that in no way incriminated him in the offence as there is no evidence.

The defence counsel stated that Hyman did not have any previous conviction nor was a flight risk. It was also highlighted that Hyman came to the court without having to be escorted by Police and was assisting with investigations. Thompson also stated that his client was a final-year student at the University of Guyana and made an application for bail in a reasonable amount so that Hyman could complete his studies.

The prosecution objected to bail on the grounds of the nature of the offence. The Chief Magistrate remanded the defendant to prison and scheduled the matter to return to court on May 27; however, later in the afternoon, an application for bail was made at the High Court which was granted in the sum of $500,000.

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Canadian High Commission greatly disappointed in Ramsaran

Canada’s High Commissioner to Guyana, Dr Nicole Giles

Canada’s High Commissioner to Guyana, Dr Nicole Giles

The High Commission of Canada said it is greatly disappointed by the comments made by Health Minister, Dr Bheri Ramsaran to women’s rights activist, Sherlina Nageer.

“The remarks uttered are disturbing and the High Commission of Canada condemns any form of abuse, including verbal and threatened, towards women.”

According to the High Commission threats of violence against women are never acceptable. “The struggle to fully attain women’s rights, in Guyana and around the world, is an ongoing battle that must be won. Such incidents weaken the progress that has been made. Global statistics produced by the UN, reinforce the need to strengthen women’s rights: 35 per cent of women worldwide have experienced either physical and or sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence; more than one in three girls alive today were married before the age of 15; women still account for two thirds of the world’s illiterate population; and in the realm of politics, although women constitute just about half of the world’s population, they occupy only 22 per cent of Parliamentary seats worldwide,” the High Commission pointed out.

According to the High Commission all partners should be unwaveringly committed to advancing the rights of women. “Political leaders have a special responsibility because they have the largest platforms, influence and decision-making ability. The High Commission of Canada hopes that leaders recognise the critical role they play in governance, including providing leadership and empowering the citizens of Guyana, including women. The empowerment of women and girls is a priority for the Government of Canada and we remain steadfast in our defense of their rights, both in Canada and abroad.”

Meanwhile, in a statement the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) said: “This is indeed an unfortunate incident which is clearly blown out of proportion by the Opposition media especially at this election season when issues perceived to hurt the PPP/C and the PPP/C Administration is being milked by Opposition elements in order to provide political capital to those opposed to the ruling PPP/C. The PPP/C wishes to state in no uncertain terms that it has the greatest respect for the women of Guyana and have always championed the cause of women in Guyana ever since its formation some 65 years ago. Indeed it was Mrs Janet Jagan who was instrumental in the formation of the first women’s organisation in Guyana, the Women’s Progressive and Economic Organisation (WPEO) and who continued to represent and defend the cause of women right up to her dying moments. Indeed, many of the benefits now enjoyed by women can be credited to her when she served as Minister of Labour, Health and Housing.”

The party said it is a lasting shame that Jagan, despite her sterling contribution to the cause of women was verbally abused and humiliated by the People’s National Congress (PNC) and other Opposition elements during and after the swearing-in ceremony as the first elected woman Head of State in the 1997 elections. What was even more unfortunate was the deafening silence by the Opposition media and other so-called human rights activists despite the fact that a woman in Guyana had created history by becoming the first woman President in the country in certified free and fair elections.

“This double standard employed by those who claim to represent the concerns of women has not escaped the notice of the PPP/C. Be that as it may, the response by Minister Ramsaran to what he thought to be an act of provocation appeared unwarranted and cannot be condoned. He said things that ought not to be said by anyone particularly that of a senior official of Government.”

According to the PPP/C, Ramsaran has no doubt recognised his indiscretion and has offered an apology.

“He has clearly said things that he ought not to have said to anyone in particular a woman. Given our present political context it is quite obvious that the political opposition will take advantage of that unfortunate situation to score cheap political points. Indeed, the strident position taken by the Opposition media is already noticeable, in particular the Kaieteur News and the Stabroek News both of which have gone overboard in their attacks against the PPP/C.”

The PPP/C said it cannot and will not condone any form of attack or disrespect towards women. “The party has nothing but the highest regard for our women. This respect and concern is manifested in manifold ways including the several measures put in place by the PPP/C Administration to empower women by way of access to academic, technical and vocational education, access to micro-credit, assistance to single parent mothers, protection and homes for battered women, and legislative action to protect women against domestic violence. Indeed, the PPP/C is the only party that has fielded a full and complete list of women as required by the Constitution for the upcoming elections as opposed to the APNU/AFC coalition whose list had to be re-submitted after it was found to be deficient by GECOM in terms of women representation.”

The PPP/C said it has a proud record when it comes to promoting and defending the rights of women and no amount of opposition attacks can negate this fact. “In this regard, the PPP/C places high premium on the contribution of women to national development and pledges to continue to treat women’s issues as a top national priority.”

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