MEDIA COMMENT BY MR. ROBERT PERSAUD – PUBLIC RELATIONS SECRETARY AND A MEMBER OF THE CENTRAL & EXECUTIVE COMMITTEES OF THE PPP

“CLEARING THE AIR ON RECENT ALLEGATIONS & PUBLIC STATEMENTS ABOUT PPP MEETING”

Messrs. Moses Nagamootoo and Khemraj Ramjattan have accused or suggested that I made a false statement to the media rebutting a false and malicious Stabroek News story of Saturday, February 7, 2004 which read: “Officials at the meeting included President Bharrat Jagdeo who at a Central Committee meeting last week accused Ramjattan of passing information to the US, British and Canadian missions.”
I strongly reject this imputation that I made a false statement and consider this an attack on my character. Allow me to give some context to the fabrication of Nagamootoo and Ramjattan, now confirmed by all others who attended the Central Committee meeting of January 31, 2004.
Upon reading the article on Saturday, February 7, I proceeded to contact Mr. David De Caires, the Editor-in-Chief of the Stabroek News, but was unsuccessful. On Sunday morning of February 8 while I was on the Corentyne, Berbice to address a Party Regional Conference, Mr. De Caires was kind enough to return my telephone call. I reminded him of the earlier and categorical denial of the General Secretary of the PPP of any such accusation made during the Central Committee meeting of January 31, 2004. I further restated the truth in my other capacity as Information Liaison to the President and requested that he publish an apology to the President of Guyana or libel proceedings will be contemplated given the gravity of this lie. Mr. DeCaires undertook to discuss the matter with his daily Editor Mr. Anand Persaud whom he said would contact me if further clarifications were needed.
In the Monday edition of the Stabroek News of February 9, 2004, a story reporting my denial of such accusation was printed. However, no apology was made. An Attorney-at-law acting for the President dispatched a letter to Mr. Anand Persaud, the Daily Editor of the Stabroek News, formally seeking an unqualified apology or retraction given the defamatory nature of the story and possible implications of the falsehood on Guyana’s relations with its friends and allies. Mr. De Caires informed the Attorney-at-Law via telephone that he would not be apologising and is prepared to defend the matter in the court. A letter written by Mr. Miles Fitzpatrick, an Attorney-at-Law acting on behalf of Anand Persaud, later confirmed this. Mr. De Caires’s basis for a non-apology was that both Ramjattan and Nagamootoo are willing to testify under oath that the story was correct.
It is interesting to note that this lie first appeared in an article by Freddie Kissoon in the February 1, 2004 edition of the Kaieteur News, but did not identify the President or anyone as making the allegation. That article presented a distorted, jaundiced version of account of what transpired from the moment when Ramjattan arrived in the meeting room to until he departed. In fact, it was Nagamootoo at the near end of the meeting who suggested to the General Secretary, myself and a few other CC members that Ramjattan might have spoken to the media as Kissoon and DeCaires were trying to contact him, urgently at home. Of serious worry to persons who attended the meeting was how could a newspaper columnist and a leading critic of the PPP, just moments after Ramjattan left the leadership forum, turn up at the home of Nagamootoo seeking more information and/or confirmation of the events related to him. Why would Kissoon and De Caires immediately contact Nagamootoo for information and/or clarification on this issue?
It is also important to recall that neither the General Secretary nor I suggested the source(s) of the fabrication. However, Nagamootoo and Ramjattan have now rushed to confirm the story, which was peddled to the Stabroek News. In so doing, they have exposed who were behind this concoction traded with sections of the media. This issue should be seen against the background of Nagamootoo’s publicly declared intention to challenge President Bharrat Jagdeo in 2006, and Ramjattan’s latest encounter with the Disciplinary Committee of the Party. Dragging the name of Cheddi Jagan into this issue as if Nagamootoo is the sole custodian of the late President and General Secretary’s name and memory is a feeble and distasteful device to promote his faltering ambitions.
This is not the first time that such fabrications have been peddled by these two individuals. Ramjattan had last year told a number of individuals that he had seen a letter written by President Jagdeo to the President of the World Bank objecting to his participation in a conference sponsored by the multilateral institution in Finland. The World Bank office publicly said that no such letter existed and Ramjattan afterwards changed his story.
Then on November 9, 2003, Nagamootoo, in a television interview with Yesu Persaud’s ITV claimed that “when (President) Jagdeo became President, Mrs Jagan, President Jagdeo and I were in the office of the President. And she said, `you know, Bharrat, we have to create a Vice Presidency. We have to make Moses a Vice President.’” Both President Jagdeo and Mrs Janet Jagan have denied that this conversation ever took place. Mrs Jagan emphatically stated that she has never suggested Nagamootoo’s name for Vice President to President Jagdeo or any other President. Mrs Jagan has further opined that if she had wanted to appoint Nagamootoo a Vice President she could have done so during her tenure.
Since my election to the Central Committee of the PPP in 1998 and the Executive Committee in 2002, I have served as the Recording Secretary, including at the meeting of January 31, 2004. I have also served as the Party’s Public Relations Secretary and Chairman of its youth arm – the PYO. No member of my Party has ever accused me of peddling falsehoods and lying. My party, of which I have been associated for more than half of my 29 years of age, has instilled in me the highest regard for honesty, discipline, dedication, commitment and faithful service.
I wish to conclude by reiterating excerpt of statements which our Party issued: “The General Secretary of the People’s Progressive Party (PPP), Mr. Donald Ramotar, in a recent television interview categorically stated that no member of the Central Committee, including President Bharrat Jagdeo during the statutory meeting of January 31, 2004 held at Freedom House, accused Khemraj Ramjattan of giving information to any foreign embassy or mission.” All other members of the Central Committee have since affixed their signature to a public statement concurring with the statement of the our General Secretary emphatically denying that any such accusation was made.”

February 13, 2004