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PNCR’s Debra Backer dies

Former Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly, Debra Backer died Friday morning after a period of illness, her party-the Peoples National Congress Reform (PNCR) announced.

She was 55 years old.

It is with deep regret that the Peoples National Congress Reform mourns the passing of Ms. Debbie Jan Backer. Debbie passed away this morning after a brief illness.

The General Secretary has ordered that the Party flag be flown at half-staff at all PNCR offices around the country. The Party will issues a more detailed statement later.

Her passing marks the end of a battle with cancer for which she had undergone surgery and therapy.

Speaker of the National Assembly, Raphael Trotman expressed shock and deep grief at the passing of his longtime friend and political colleague. “This death has hit me in an acute and personal way and Debbie was to me the best sister, the best friend , the best colleague and the best comrade I could have asked for and so I express my condolences to her children, her husband and the entire National Assembly would honour her in the coming days,” he said.

Trotman and Backer joined the PNC together, became City Councilors at the same time and when he became the Speaker of the House, she was elected his Deputy following the 2011 General and Regional Elections.

Until her recent resignation due to ill health, Backer was a parliamentarian for the main opposition A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) and Shadow Minister of Home Affairs.

In paying tribute to Backer, Home Affairs Minister Clement Rohee praised her contributions as a “good fighter” on behalf of her party and he credited her with contributing to the architecture of Guyana’s security sector in the National Assembly. “She was very effective in keeping me ‘on the ball’. We had some good fights in the Parliament while she was the Shadow Minister in the Parliament. She has contributed to the framing of a parliamentary archictecture and influencing the security architecture of Guyana,” he said.

Leader of the Alliance For Change (AFC), Khemraj Ramjattan hailed Backer for her contribution to the legal profession and Guyana’s politics. “It’s a huge loss to the legal profession and the politics of Guyana. As you know, she was an extraordinarily fearless fighter for justice in the Courts of Guyana. She stood up for women’s rights and as a close friend of hers, I’ll miss her badly,” he said.