The burden of showing proof
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THE Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo holds a weekly press conference. It is not rocket science to understand what he seeks to achieve by doing so. His party is in the opposition. Being there after more than two decades in government may not be the ideal situation the party expected or desires. That is understood. Having been dealt the hand of being placed in the Opposition by the citizens, the PPP/C owes this society some degree of prudence.
It has managed through alleged bribery, to get one of the government MPs to cross the floor and vote with it in a no-confidence motion to topple the administration. That vote is being challenged currently in the Court of Appeal. Having to hear complaints and accusations from Mr Jagdeo, often in the absence of evidence, or, being uptight when such is sought will not help the growth of this society, or the image of the party. Holding elected office is not an entitlement; it is a privilege granted by the people. Whether this privilege is to serve in the Opposition or the Government, it is not one to be trifled with.

The PPP general secretary, at a recent press conference, accused this newspaper and other individuals of stirring up racial tension, when his party since losing the 2015 elections, had been on a campaign accusing the present administration of witch-hunting, racial discrimination and ethnic cleansing, all because corrective measures were taken to weed out corrupt officials who were given succor under his government.

Under Jagdeo’s watch, his Cabinet Secretary Dr Roger Luncheon declared, that no Afro-Guyanese was qualified to be an ambassador for this country. The state newspaper under him, and his successor, Donald Ramotar, published editorials and other articles demonising Afro-Guyanese. Jagdeo himself had been charged with race-baiting and had the ignominy of standing in a dock to answer to those charges.

None is fooled, given historical antecedents of conflicts primarily between Africans and East Indians, the latter being a majority of the PPP/C’s base. Racial discrimination is a serious accusation. It is reasonable to believe that if not both groups, at least one group would want proof. It is understandable why this would and should be a matter of concern, and this is not because Mr. Jagdeo has so accused.

Then we read one of the most outlandish claims by a national newspaper- the Stabroek News in its editorial on Monday, declaring that President David Granger’s appointment of Justice James Patterson as the Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), is now leading to the “subversion of GECOM and the work it must complete to comply with the constitutional stricture for the holding of general elections.” What subversion?, what alliance?. Another dangerous claim, which the Stabroek News must prove. Like the opposition, this newspaper seems not to care about the various scenarios GECOM’s technical people have presented to the commission regarding holding elections. Besides, there is no guarantee that elections would be held early, if the validity of the no-onfidence is being contested.

Then, for the Stabroek News to be making political statements, leaves one to wonder. Like with the opposition, if one is to take Stabroek News seriously, credibility/validity has to be established. To accuse the chairman and the President of some sort of mischief is most vile and contemptuous, and we hope that the Head of State and the chairman of GECOM would respond to this claim.

The Stabroek News has over time been elevating the viewpoints of all kinds of people as if they were “gospel truth” on the issue of the no confidence motion. No other viewpoints matter.

We see the daily self-serving piffle by Ralph Ramkarran-who just formed a political party, and Christopher Ram, a junior attorney making pronouncements about the constitution and being given great latitude to pontificate, but reasoned and more knowledgeable and respected voices are drowned out. We see over the weekend, a most brilliant articulation by Retired Justice of the Caribbean Court of Justice, Professor Duke Pollard on the ruling by the Chief Justice, but this would not make the pages of the Stabroek News.

The accusations by the Sabroek News and the PPP general secretary carry concomitant responsibility to show proof, given its dire implications. She/he who accuses shoulders the burden to provide proof. Here is where this society is deserving of being shown the evidence. The task is now for Stabroek News to help all Guyanese, by providing the evidence of the alleged alliance between the President and the GECOM chair that is leading to the subversion of that body’s work.

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