Internet Radio

Opposition walks out from money laundering committee over Ramotar’s “terrorism” remark

Although Alliance For Change (AFC) leader, Khemraj Ramjattan walked out of a parliamentary select committee to protest President Donald Ramotar’s description of the opposition as “terrorists”, the opposition will not be withdrawing permanently.

Carl Greenidge, who is representing A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) on the select committee that is examining amendments to financial crimes legislation, said the opposition decided to register its strong objection to Ramotar’s description.

The President has labelled the opposition’s voting down of a bill and a motion tied to the US$840 million Amaila Falls Hydropower project an “act of terrorism.”  That description on Monday prompted Ramjattan to walk out of the parliamentary select committee that is considering amendments to the 2009 Anti Money Laundering and Countering of Financing of Terrorism Act (AML/CFT).

“It was at this point that I, Ramjattan, made an intervention arguing that since the Committee was preparing legislation to catch terrorists and prevent their financing, and since the President would have to Assent the legislation for it to become law, then it was most regrettable and repugnant that I ,as a ‘terrorist’ should continue to be an author of this anti-terrorist law.

I then walked out of the meeting, saying as I did so that, I will not participate further until the President retracts his description of myself and all the Opposition Parliamentarians as a terrorist,” said Ramjattan.

But APNU’s Greenidge says the opposition will return to the committee at the next meeting. “I don’t think we have sought to do anything other than register a protest at the most inappropriate behaviour on behalf of a president who claims to be asking our assistance on something of national interest,” he said.

Calling Ramotar’s utterance “irresponsible and insensitive,” Granger said the opposition would decide when to return to the committee because “we have not said that we are permanently walking out of the meeting.” He said the opposition’s return was not hinged on an apology from the President.

Following is the AFC Leader’s full text of his account of what transpired at the meeting:

Yesterday at around 5:45 pm, I, Khemraj Ramjattan, a member of the Select Committee dealing with the Anti-money Laundering  Bill, walked out of the Committee’s proceedings.

Earlier in the week, President Donald Ramotar had called the Opposition Parliamentarians who voted down the Hydro Amendment Bill and the Motion to up the guarantee to public corporations to $150 B “terrorists”. This I found most offensive and insulting. I have since written a piece explaining that it was out of prudence that the AFC voted as it did.

At a meeting of the Committee on July 22, 2013, the Chairperson’s attention was drawn to the President’s comment by Mr. Carl Greenidge. Greenidge, on behalf of the Opposition members urged the Select Committee to pass a Motion to condemn what the President said in public. The Government members namely Anil Nandlall and Bishop Juan Edghill sought to deflect the significance of the comment as not being material and relevant to what the Committee was doing and that whatever grievance the Opposition members felt should be taken to another forum.

There was a vote on the Motion brought by Greenidge which saw the Opposition four members-Greenidge, Joe Harmon, Basil Williams and Ramjattan out voting the Government members Anil Nandlall and Bishop Juan Edghill.

The Chairperson, Gail Texeira, then argued that the condemnation of the President was unwarranted and ought not to be allowed under the Standing orders.

It was at this point that I, Ramjattan, made an intervention arguing that since the Committee was preparing legislation to catch terrorists and prevent their financing, and since the President would have to Assent the legislation for it to become law, then it was most regrettable and repugnant that I ,as a ‘terrorist’ should continue to be an author of this anti-terrorist law. I then walked out of the meeting, saying as I did so that, I will not participate further until the President retracts his description of myself and all the Opposition Parliamentarians as a terrorist. This is the same President who has failed to apologise for calling another AFC colleague a jackass recently.

Khemraj Ramjattan MP