THE PIPER: Rodney COI – No need for more controversy
It is very unfortunate that the Rodney Commission of Inquiry’s (COI) Report has been embargoed by President David Granger. This act, added to the inability of the Commission to present it to the President and instead told to “drop it off at the Attorney General’s Chambers”, unnecessarily prolongs the controversy occasioned by the People’s National Congress Reform’s (PNCR) refusal to cooperate with the COI. Mr Granger is leader of the PNC.
The reason proffered was President Donald Ramotar of the previous PPP/C administration was politically opportunistic in launching the Commission. But while this may be so, the PNC itself had voted in Parliament for such a COI back in 2005, when a motion was moved by the PPP/C administration. The irony was the PPP/C then chose to abstain on its own motion when it was proposed by the PNC that it would be begging the question for the motion required the Inquiry look into the “assassination” of Dr Rodney. The word “death” was suggested and the motion was approved by the PNC, WPA and ROAR.
In 2005, the Inquiry was never conducted because the WPA suggested its findings could be exploited during the General Elections, constitutionally due in 2006. In June 2013, however, when President Ramotar announced the convening of a COI upon the request of the widow of Dr Rodney, there was no elections in sight. It was the AFC’s motion of “no confidence”, supported by APNU (of which the PNC is the overwhelmingly largest component) that precipitated the elections of 2015. Therefore, while the PPP would obviously have hoped the revelations of the COI would work against the chances of APNU acceding to office, it is a moot point since it was the PPP that was forced to demit office.
President Granger, would be well advised to release the Report forthwith, since a copy has been leaked but is unavailable to all Guyanese and other interested parties, such as the family of Dr Rodney. What makes the President’s position even more untenable is he has chosen to describe the findings of the COI as deeply “flawed” even though he claims not to have read the report thoroughly.
The majority of the country are therefore forced to rely on “hearsay” reports to judge whether the President is correct in his assessment.
But this is the very reason the President proffered for concluding the Report was “flawed”, since several witnesses’ testimony were in fact “hearsay”. However, in its Terms of Reference, the COI did state explicitly that it was not bound by the same rules of evidence as are the courts. This standard for all COI’s.
COI’s by their very nature in examining severely and deeply contentious issues are controversial. The President should count on the good sense of the Guyanese people to make their own judgement as they evaluate the “findings”.
In this way the PNC can earn a great deal of goodwill in showing some magnanimity to the memory of a man who was once the leading light in the WPA, a party with which they are now in coalition.
In explaining that circumstance, Dr Rodney’s erstwhile comrade in arms, Dr Rupert Roopnaraine, said that Guyana has to move on from its past fractures.
President Granger’s acceptance of the Rodney COI’s Report and its release, does not mean he has to accept its findings. But he will allow Guyanese to deal with those findings in an informed manner and perchance move on from some present fractures.