By Fareeza Haniff
[www.inewsguyana.com] – Former Home Affairs Minister, Clement Rohee is rather upset with recent comments by Minister of Citizenship, Winston Felix that the General Registrar’s Office (GRO) is filled with a corrupt staff.
Rohee, who is also the General Secretary of the Opposition PPP, told a news conference at Freedom House on Monday, November 30, 2015 that the Party views Felix’s comments with “utter disdain.”
He made it clear that under his tenure as Home Affairs Minister, there was no corruption at the GRO.
“That situation [corruption] had virtually disappeared…it was almost nonexistent. You would hardly find people complaining that somebody took money from them at the GRO,” Rohee told reporters.
The General Secretary noted that the staff at the GRO is known to be diligent and professional.
“To publicly chastise his own staff, accusing them of engaging in corruption must be demoralizing for staffers who are known to be diligent and professional…the PPP left behind a competent and professional staff at the GRO and immigration services section at the Ministry of Home Affairs,” Rohee said.
But while this claim is being made by Rohee, his colleague, Gail Teixeira, who was also a former Home Affairs Minister, had recently admitted that there was rampant corruption at GRO.
She had pointed out that herself and former Commissioner of Police, Winston Felix were inundated by reports from the US Embassy of fraudulent passports and fraudulent birth certificates.
“The American Embassy was asked by me to please provide evidence of these fake documents. Now the GRO ones were particularly disturbing because they were actually authentic birth certificates with the watermark of the GRO, with the signatures of people who worked at the GRO but the information on it was false. Those persons didn’t exist and from that false document, it then created another false document – fake passports,” Teixeira said.
However, Rohee maintains that the staff is not involved in corruption and went on to accuse the APNU+AFC government of trying to manipulate Guyana’s voting list.
“Word has it that the Department of Citizenship was created to reintroduce efforts by the PNC to control the births and deaths registration process with a view to manipulating the voters list by keeping the names of dead persons on the list of electors and by transferring names of underage persons from the birth register to the preliminary voters list,” Rohee alleged.
He further noted that it was Felix himself who established the linkage between birth certificates and elections “when he said that he saw persons get birth certificates without a name…”
According to Rohee, questions have arisen whether Minister Felix can be trusted to “head such a sensitive area of data management which can be used to influence the electoral process to favour the APNU+AFC.”