Walter Rodney CoI nothing but a political witch-hunt – says AG Basil Williams

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Late historian Dr Walter Rodney

MINISTER of Legal Affairs and Attorney General, Mr Basil Williams, on a programme aired on the National Communications Network, said the Walter Rodney Commission of Inquiry was nothing but “a political witch hunt” of the former Administration, which backfired on them.Minister Williams explained that the Peoples’ Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) had a political gambit which failed.

Hon. Basil Williams, Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs
Hon. Basil Williams, Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs

“First of all, they lied about Ms. Rodney’s contacting [former President Donald Ramotar], asking for such an inquiry to be held into the death of Walter Rodney…She never requested such an Inquiry…rather we learnt that she received a call purportedly from someone alleging they were from the Office of the President, informing her of the Commission being formed.”
Williams said the charade of the PPP/C was not tolerated by the populace, as the Guyanese people were not in the mood to stomach the political gambit. “It was a PPP exercise…Thoughts of the Rodney family could not have been uppermost in their minds. They were in power for 23 years and they did nothing, but on the eve of the elections, they tried to have something done.”

According to the Attorney General, the CoI does not fit in to the mood engendered by a change in government, and as such, having it continue would not serve a useful purpose, since its conception has not. He said the Rodney family could not have been satisfied with the manner in which the inquiry was conducted.

“I don’t believe the Working People’s Alliance (WPA) or the People’s National Congress (PNC) could be satisfied with the genesis or the origin of the CoI. The rules made, facilitated hearsay upon hearsay. Obviously the standard was on the balance of probability. One expects a CoI to be attended by fairness. When you have people who were not eye witnesses and who were not on the scene…, the dreams and premonitions of persons were allowed to be entered on the record”.

Minister Williams further explained that the Commission was dragged on because of its modus operandi. Witnesses who were not expected to give ‘favourable evidence’, would be shunned to the side. This was done to former Commissioner of Police Cecil ‘Skip’ Roberts, who was flown in and put up at a local hotel, but was never called to testify, because it was believed his evidence would support that of Major General Norman McLean.

“When the CoI was started with a witness who had a political bang, a witness who had political resonance, they wanted to end with such a witness also. This fact is corroborated by Shaun Samaroo’s reports. It speaks to their haphazard approach to their work. Yes, there was a method to their madness but it was haphazard.”

Recently, when the Commissioners met, they requested two weeks to conclude taking evidence from witnesses. However, Attorney General Basil Williams believes that another two weeks would have been fruitless, as nothing would have come out of it.

The Commission of Inquiry into the death of political activist and historian Walter Rodney has cost the Guyanese taxpayers’ approximately $400M.