The final report of the investigation into the death of Dr Walter Rodney was further delayed Monday after the Chairman of the Commission, Sir Richard Cheltenham, indicated that he was not ready to hand it over.
Members of the Media were on Monday invited to the Ministry of the Presidency (MoP) where it was stated that Commissioners would be submitting the report to President David Granger. However, after a few minutes waiting, they were informed that the submission was postponed since the Commission was not quite ready.
Late last evening (Monday), the MoP sent out a statement saying “Cheltenham did not submit the CoI Report to President David Granger, as was scheduled to happen (at 12:00 pm Monday). Sir Cheltenham reported that he was unable to make the 12:00pm scheduled time because he had run out of ink to print the document,” the release said.
Last week following a meeting with Attorney General Basil Williams, Cheltenham had told reporters that Commissioners were concerned about the impact the premature ending of the CoI back in June would have on the outcome of the investigation. He, however, said the report would be ready for submission this Monday.
Government, when it assumed office back in 2015, had given the Commission a mere two weeks to wrap-up its meeting, saying the investigation, which was set up by former President Donald Ramotar, had expended too much of taxpayers’ money.
Attorney General Basil Williams also released a statement Monday evening expressing that he is “fed up” of the way the Commission has been treating the President and the People of Guyana.
“I am deeply concerned. I am even more concerned that this is a Presidential Inquiry and that the President has been asked for extensions of time and every time the President agreed. It is not an appropriate way to deal with the President of a country and I think the time has come for us to put a definitive end to this entire Commission of Inquiry… the President has bent over backwards on many occasions. I am fed up of the entire situation,” the Attorney General said. Minister Williams added that he found the handling of the matter by the Commissioner surprising and unfair since he had put all arrangements in place to ensure the completion of the work of the Commission.
Sir Richard had requested that the handing over be rescheduled to a time later in the day but Minister Williams indicated that this arrangement seemed uncertain. “Sir Richard was asking for any time between 16:00h and 18:00h (Monday evening), which again sounded very iffy and I had to come to Parliament,” he explained.
Meanwhile, the Justice for the Walter Rodney Committee has called on Government to allow fairness to emanate from the Walter Rodney Commission of Inquiry.
The organisation on Monday said it has been following with interest the statements of the Government through its spokespersons, Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs Basil Williams and Minister of Natural Resources Raphael Trotman.
“From the statements attributed to these officials, their comments demonstrate that they are on a campaign to disparage, denigrate, and thus create the impression that the Walter Rodney Commission of Inquiry did not accomplish anything of substance. It is not clear why this would be in the interest of the Government of Guyana.”
According to the Committee, an objective of the Commission was to get to the truth as to the circumstances which led to the death of Walter Rodney on June 13, 1980.
“It will be in the interest of the Government of Guyana that the Commission completes its work so that all of the evidence and the hearings can be placed in the public domain. It will be important at this point for the entire government to make it clear that this Commission of Inquiry should be able to complete its work. By making the recommendation to cabinet to disallow more time for the testimony of crucial witnesses to allow for a smooth and proper completion of the Walter Rodney Commission of Inquiry, Mr Williams is seeking to mould the public’s perception on the real historical meaning of this Inquiry,” the statement said.