Walter Rodney COI is targeting the PNC – Basil Williams

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By Fareeza Haniff

Walter Rodney
Walter Rodney

[www.inewsguyana.com] – The People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) believes that the Commission of Inquiry (COI) into the assassination of Walter Rodney is specifically targeting the period when the PNC was in government.

This is according to Chairman of the PNC, Basil Williams who told reporters during a press conference on Thursday, March 6 that the PNC is unsure as to whether any of its senior members will participate in the COI.

Williams also noted that the Party has serious issues with the terms of reference in the COI.

“When you look at some of those recommendations, especially recommendation four, which says the Commissioners are to examine a report on the actions and activities of the State, such as the Guyana Police Force, the Guyana Defence Force, the Guyana National Service and those who were in command of those agencies to determine whether they were tasked with the surveillance of and the carrying of those actions and whether they executed those actions for the period January 1, 1978 – December 31, 1980.”

Williams told reporters that the government has a desired outcome from the inquiry and believes that it started “on the wrong foot.”

Chairman of the PNCR, Basil Williams.
Chairman of the PNCR, Basil Williams.

“Now this is a witch hunt and it beholds the government and the President that if he is going to embark on such an inquiry, that justice must not only be done, but justice must be seen to be done,” the PNCR Chairman said.

Meanwhile, Williams also questioned the appointment of Trinidadian Senior Counsel Seenauth Jairam as a Commissioner to the Inquiry. He explained that in 2012, after the Parliamentary Majority in the National Assembly reduced the Budget, Seenauth Jairam SC was retained by the People’s Progressive Party/ Civic Administration to represent the Government in the case that was brought against the Leader of the Opposition, David Granger and Speaker of the National Assembly, Raphael Trotman.

“Given the very sensitive political nature of this Commission, the Partnership would have hoped that the PPP/C Administration would have selected Commissioners that are politically neutral, and individuals with no links to the PPP/C Government so as to at least give the perception of impartiality.”

Williams made it clear that the Party is not questioning the competence of Jairam.

“There would be a likelihood of basis… We are not questioning the competence but certainly a man who has been involved in partisan politics against the opposition in Guyana ought not to be sitting to determine what was the involvement of the main political opposition party during that period,” Williams told the news conference.

Walter Rodney had traveled widely and became very well known internationally as an activist, scholar and formidable orator. He taught at the University of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania during the period 1966-67 and later in Jamaica at his alma mater UWI Mona.

He was sharply critical of the middle class for its role in the post-independence Caribbean. He was also a strong critic of capitalism and argued for a socialist development template.

On October 15, 1968 the government of Jamaica, led by Prime Minister Hugh Shearer, declared Rodney persona non grata. The decision to ban him from ever returning to Jamaica because of his advocacy for the working poor in that country caused riots to break out, eventually claiming the lives of several people and causing millions of dollars in damages.

These riots, which started on 16 October 1968, are now known as the Rodney Riots, and they triggered an increase in political awareness across the Caribbean, especially among the Afrocentric Rastafarian sector of Jamaica, documented in his book The Groundings With My Brothers.

Rodney was killed on June 13, 1980 while sitting in his car on John Street outside the Georgetown Prison. His car exploded. 

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