Pressure mounts on WPA as private sector, Pandits Council join in condemning divisive statements

The private sector, Pandits Council and several members of the Opposition have all joined the government in denouncing the recent racist and divisive comments made by Working People’s Alliance (WPA) member, Tacuma Ogunseye.

The Georgetown Chamber of Commerce (GCCI) and Private Sector Commission (PSC) have issued statements condemning in the ‘strongest possible’ manner the public statement broadcast to the public on March 9, 2023.

The PSC deems this behaviour as an “ugly attempt to promote insurrection against the elected Government of the day.”

“The statement… is utterly irresponsible and completely reckless and must be rejected out of hand by every citizen of our country,” the PSC categorically stated.  

Expressing similar sentiments, the GCCI in its statement noted that, “violence, and the urging of violence, has no place in a modern and democratic society.

“It is disheartening and appalling to see a fossilised way of thinking being resurrected and urgings in the direction of sowing havoc, disharmony and the destabilisation of our democracy.”

Meanwhile, the Guyana Pandits Council and its affiliates urged that all Guyanese to denounce Ogunseye’s utterances.

The council stated, “as we endeavor to unify our people as one nation, there should be no place for any public speech that threatens to fuel racial incitement, civil unrest and instability.”

Further, the council ‘strongly believes’ that members of the disciplined forces will continue to be resolutely opposed to any attempt to compromise our democracy, the rule of law and national security.

Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall, SC, in his capacity as Secretary of the Defence Board issued a statement also denouncing the, “racist incendiary call for public disorder and resistance, positioned as an alternative to the democratic process of Local Government Elections lawfully due.”

The AG said such a statement is capable of amounting to several criminal offences, including but not limited to, sedition, seditious libel, inciting riotous behaviour and exciting racial hostility in order to create a breakdown of law and order within the State of Guyana, if not treason.

He noted that such inflammatory publications cannot be justified under the rubric of freedom of expression as guaranteed by the Constitution, since Article 146 which guarantees such freedom, expressly excepts “…hate speeches or other expressions, in whatever form, capable of exciting hostility or ill will against any person or class of persons.”

President, Dr Mohamed Irfaan Ali in a video message on Saturday, while denouncing the ‘racist, opportunistic dismantlers’ on the opposition side, called on all Guyanese to reject and condemn the WPA’s hate speech.