In the wake of mounting pressure for Guyana’s Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandall to resign over remarks he purportedly made in a telephone conversation, he Tuesday denied being aware of a planned armed attack on the privately-owned Kaieteur News newspaper.
“I wish to state clearly and unequivocally, that I am unaware of any planned violence or extra-judicial sanction against any individual journalist or any newspaper,” he said in an address to the professional staff of the Advice, Litigation and Drafting Departments and Members of the Senior Management of the Ministry of Legal Affairs.
That address was not released through the Government Information Agency (GINA), but via the privately-owned public relations firm, TagMan Media.
The Attorney General, however, stayed clear of a section of the rercording in which he purportedly described himself as being a member of a higher East Indian class unlike Jagdeo and Brassington.
President Donald Ramotar is expected to address the nation Tuesday night on a number of matters.
Tuesday’s statement is the first by the Attorney General since the controversy broke almost one week ago, resulting in growing calls from the Guyana Bar Association, Guyana Women Lawyers Association, Guyana Press Association and Transparency International Guyana Inc for him to either resign or be removed from office. To date, the government has ignored such calls and has stood by Nandlall on the basis that the content of the recording was manipulated.
Nandlall also apologised for remarks he purportedly made about a female reporter at the newspaper. Based on the recording, the Attorney General’s voice is heard allegedly soliciting the assistance of Kaieteur News journalist, Leonard Gildharie to arrange for a female reporter to engage in intimate relations with someone connected to him ( the minister).
Nandlall’s purported voice is heard repeatedly urging Gildharie to leave Kaieteur News and even submit a proposal to work with an “elite” media team that President Donald Ramotar was putting together. “My first advice to you is to move out of there. It is a dangerous f……g place to work. It is a dangerous place. I am telling you. Read between the lines. This thing not go on for long. People ain’t go tek this ting so.”
“When you continue attacking people like that and they have no way of responding, dem ah guh jus walk with a weapon into that same f…..g Saffon Street office and wah come suh duh and innocent Peter will have to pay for f….g Paul in deh one day. Me ah tell you honestly- man-to-man- that will happen soon so the quicker you get out ah deh, de better.”
But the Attorney General, in his address to staff members, was at pains to assure his staff and the Guyanese public that he has every confidence in the judicial system rather than the resort to violence. “Our government does not condone or promote violence in any form or at any level. As you all here in these chambers know, we have worked tirelessly to give leadership and guidance to the development of legislation that tackle violence in all forms and at every level including the protection of women and children from domestic violence,” he said.
Nandlall’s voice is purportedly heard saying that “the man want f..k the gal man”… “the man seh he want lash the ting. You can arrange?” However, the Minister said that aspect of the impugned recording “has perhaps caused me the greatest personal distress.”
“I have been judged harshly by both the general public and by women’s groups and activists. However, neither of these judgments has been as harsh as the judgments I have received from the women in my life, most notably my wife and my mother. I wish to assure all women in Guyana of my highest respect and to promise that I will continue to struggle for their rights and respect wherever there remain gaps in the treatment of women in our society,” he said.
The tone of the Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs’ address suggested that he and the government are under intense pressure for his purported remarks made in a private conversation that he said he had with someone he has known for a very long time. Nandlall said that conversation was merely “friendly banter” and took place in the context of mutual trust, confidence and informality.
“Nevertheless, the publishing of this impugned recording was an unexpected betrayal. In the recording, you, and indeed the public, would have heard some most unfortunate remarks attributed to me. This entire episode has caused me and my family great embarrassment, personal distress and tremendous pain. I am truly sorry that you, my political colleagues, and the general public had to endure this highly regrettably ordeal,” he said.
Nandlall said the controversy that in addition to the personal consequences for him and his family, this episode has also served as a distraction for our nation at a time when there are significant and substantial issues that require our collective focused attention.
The Attorney General hoped that a lawsuit in connection with the recording would determine the legality and authenticity of the recording as well as the liabilities. Additionally, I have no doubt that the appropriate authorities would send the recording for proper forensic analysis.”