AG should “quash Donald Rodney’s mistrial and conviction” – Eusi Kwayana

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Donald Rodney
Donald Rodney

[www.inewsguyana.com] – Political Activist Eusi Kwayana says that it is imperative that the Attorney General Basil Williams move to quash the conviction of Donald Rodney.

Connected to the assassination of political activist Walter Rodney, the younger Rodney was convicted for being in possession of an explosive and served an 18-month sentence.

Read the full statement from Eusi Kwayana below:

The time has come for direct challenges on the issue of Walter Rodney’s unnatural death which international as well as Guyanese police experts determined from material found at the crime scene was caused by an electronically triggered device.  Rodney was then 38 and his message of “People’s Power, no Dictator!” had become an article of faith among thousands upon thousands in the post-colonial world outside the corridors of power.

Earlier deaths of political figures like Vincent Teekah, Ohene Koama and Edward Dublin, though suspected by many of being politically motivated, had been treated as unworthy of any investigation. In the case of Walter Rodney, after 12 years the regime presiding over his un-investigated death gave way to another which after many pressures saw the passage in 2005 of a unanimous resolution of the National Assembly ordering an international inquiry into the death.

In 2013, the PPP/C was in its 21st year in office after its fifth consecutive election victory. Not caring to hide its partisan interests inside Guyana, it went through the motions of yielding to Rodney’s family and established a Commission by law in such a manner as to provoke non-cooperation by some parties and individuals. Finally weighing the significance of the process,  those parties entered appearance and for  68 days over the period April 28, 2014 to July 28, 2015  ensured the highest  level  of transparency  possible in an Inquiry, as it took place in open,  public,  adversarial session and was broadcast live.

Any observer of the issues would know that the delay of 30 years, shared between the PNC and the PPP, would reduce the speed of such an inquiry and add to its cost.

After the Commission had sat for one year, developments in Guyana compelled a general and regional election which resulted in a change of government with the APNU and AFC coalition gaining a one seat majority, and with the presidential candidate of the PNC, the largest party in the coalition, as President of Guyana.

Eusi Kwayana
Eusi Kwayana

After revealing a series of suspected financial irregularities of an alarming nature by the former PPP/C government, the new government turned its focus on the Commission and the Secretariat which had been appointed by the PPP/C.  Government figures mounted a campaign to discredit the Commission using innuendo to place it alongside the suspect money launderers of the PPP administration. The upshot  of these developments was a presidential order, made after consulting only one side, and apparently without hearing the Commission’s opinion both as good practice and as a courtesy, that  the Commission close down after two further days of public hearings, devoted to lawyers’ submissions and that it submit its report by the end of November 2015. The government gave out that the Cabinet supported the decision without dissent. No one seemed alerted to its prejudicial nature.   

The Government did not announce whether or not the Commissioners were to be assisted by the Secretariat in the period up to November 30 or left to manage for themselves.    

The Government’s clear hostility to the Commission may be a reflection of the failure of the PNC to lead any evidence against Rodney but rather to place its faith in a book claimed to be written by the fugitive suspect in the crime, Gregory Smith, and published twenty-five years after his death in Cayenne. One witness accused Rodney of planning an act of sabotage with no suggested relation to the date, the place, or the circumstances of his death.  

The Minister of Governance, Mr. Raphael Trotman, a stranger to the climate of  1980,  described the inquiry as “embarrassing”, without any elaboration.   

In this matter, the new President   has a chance to establish for himself a record of fairness. Despite the allegations of the PPP, his name was not implicated or compromised in any testimony, oral or documentary, in the public sessions.  Having to date not been smeared by the events and manoeuvres of the bloody and felonious assassination  of 1980, it is the  wish of fair minded people that he is not  by his  exercise  of  his authority to close down the Commission suspected of  the civic assassination  of the Commission’s findings.

Attorney General, Basil Williams.
Attorney General, Basil Williams.

The Guyana government’s principal legal adviser, the Attorney General, the main anti -Rodney protagonist in the Inquiry,   belongs to a learned profession many of whose members are dedicated to the upholding of ethical governance. Clearly he cannot allow these events to go by without a statement on the quality of the earlier trial of Donald Rodney, a trial which would be a stain on the most backward judicial system.  He will be failing in his duty and his professional ethics if he does not move to quash Donald Rodney’s mistrial and conviction.  The withholding from the court and the defence of evidence favourable to the defence is a feature of dungeon democracy and must be denounced at the highest level of a democratic legal system and government.  

These issues are so crucial .that we are compelled to refer to the composition of the Coalition Government which exercises control over the Commission. The Working People’s Alliance is not now a major political party.  Because of its record, however, many will be concerned how it is treated within the Coalition.  Walter Rodney, standing above the divisions of the  sixties,   justified all that is noble in African Guyanese and struck a blow against the entrapment in race politics  when he declared in defence of Arnold Rampersaud,’

                                “Africans came out of slavery with dignity! “

Those still alive who cherish Walter Rodney’s living call for all time, “People’s Power, No Dictator!” and use it as a   measure   of political   health may   number more than  five thousand, the Coalition’s   slim majority. Its consultants   will advise it that even for no higher motive than self-preservation it cannot directly or indirectly be seen as undermining the Walter Rodney Commission of Inquiry.                 

Eusi Kwayana

For Justice for Walter Rodney Committee                           

1 COMMENT

  1. In the name of all that is decent and honourable Granger should accede to Kwayana’s request. Practicality also dictates that he go this route, after all he would not want people to conclude that he was intimately involved. Those who are implicated let them fight their own battle. If Granger was not involved then their problem is not his problem.

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