Govt votes to adopt Dr. Walter Rodney COI recommendations

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Some seven years after the launch of the Commission of Inquiry (COI) into the 1980 death of historian Dr. Walter Rodney, the Government’s side of the National Assembly voted to adopt its recommendations.

During a heated debate at the 31st Sitting of the 12th Parliament on Tuesday, the Ministers rebuffed the unsubstantiated allegations and aspersions the Parliamentary Opposition cast on the COI.

Minister of Parliamentary Affairs and Governance, Gail Teixeira, MP, brought the motion to the Assembly urging the People’s National Congress (PNC)-dominated Opposition to adopt the COI, so that the country can heal.

The COI classified the historian’s death by bombing as an assassination that had the involvement of the late President Forbes Burnham-led PNC Administration at the time.

“I am asking the Opposition… all of us have to deal with our histories… However, we must have the magnanimity [as] a people to recognise this was wrong…

“The assassination of a leader like Walter Rodney or anybody because of their political beliefs, was wrong,” Minister Teixeira emphasised.

Some of the recommendations called for improved training and professionalism in the Guyana Defence Force and the Guyana Police Force, timely inquests into a death by unnatural means, and an electoral system that follows the Constitution of Guyana.

Meanwhile, in his submission, Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Mohabir Anil Nandlall, SC, MP, slammed the APNU/AFC for its attempt to tarnish the reputations of the jurists from the Caribbean who served on the COI.

AG Nandlall described the Opposition’s charade as an attempt to have a mock COI during the debate on the motion.

“Come off of the politics,” the AG said, “We have already passed that stage. Whoever is implicated in Rodney’s killing has already been found guilty and condemned… Let’s move forward and support the recommendations.”

Speaking to the Opposition’s deflections, AG Nandlall added that the conduct had, “desecrated the life, legacy of Rodney when we promised that we will cherish it and honour it.”

Taking it further, the AG called out the APNU/AFC objections to the motion, since none were raised at the COI through the PNC lawyers, namely the then Attorney General, Mr. Basil Williams and the current Opposition Leader, MP Joseph Harmon.

“They participated from the beginning to the end. They cross-examined every single witness that they wished to cross examine and tonight, you come here and you desecrate the commission of enquiry,” the AG said.

The presentations ended with Minister Teixeira again calling on the APNU-AFC to ‘soul-search’ and join the Government’s efforts to develop the nation.

Minister Teixeira noted that the Administration is focused on “efforts at building a ‘One Guyana’- a ‘One Guyana’ for all of us as a people where we will work towards equitable distribution of goods and services; where we will work [for] the development of the regions of our country… That is our goal and if you don’t agree with it, I’m sorry. You’re lost.”

Both Ministers were supported by Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Hugh Todd, MP, during the debates.

On June 10, the Attorney General told the National Assembly the Government would  change Dr. Rodney’s death certificate to reflect he was assassinated and honour him as the professor he was, rather than “unemployed” as was stated.