The People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) will continue its limited participation in the Walter Rodney Commission of Inquiry slated to resume on the 26th, even as the party’s Chairman, Basil Williams anticipates cross emanating Home Affairs Minister Clement Rohee.
This was the message Williams gave to the media during an A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) press brief Fridayduring which he shared reservations on his part and, allegedly, on the part of the Commissioners of the inquiry about having such an activity during what is likely to be an elections year. Appointed by the President to conduct the Inquiry as Sir Richard Cheltenham of Barbados, (Chairman), Jacqueline Samuels Brown, SC, and SeenathJairam, SC.
“Don’t forget our participation is limited to having lawyers in here to do cross examinations and to challenge some of those statements. My recollection is that when we ended the last time I had (Labour Minister) Dr. Gopaul under cross examination (and) will have to continue if I decided that I needed more from him.”
Williams also noted that Rohee is one of three new witnesses slated to take the stand.“They have sent the names of three witnesses, the second one on the list is Mr. Roheeand obviously I am very curious to hear what he has to say…certainly I would want to be there to cross examine somebody like Mr. Rohee.
Despite what seems like measured anticipation there are also reservations.
“When I received an email that they wanted to resume I wrote them an email querying whether it waswise to bring it at the time where parliament has been prorogued…general and regional elections are in the air and political parties are campaigning.” Williams says this particular message was communicated to the Administrator of the Commission of Inquiry (COI), who is yet to respond formally.
With regard to the commissioners he said they indicated that it may not be the best idea for them to “be here at this time, at a time when a country is in the course of contesting the elections to determine who would be the government. I think all of them had indicated that to us…that they didn’t think the atmosphere would be appropriate.” He could not recall, however, if these expressions were official or unofficial.
Williams also said that the Lawyer for Trade Union Congress (TUC) has said that he would be unable to make it to the upcoming hearing, while TUC President Lincoln Lewis has allegedly said he would not be able to make the second set of hearings which commence in February 8th. In addition to hearings for one week later this month and next week the COI is slated to have hearings in March, all hearings are to be held in the law library.
Last year, Junior Finance Minister Juan Edghill told the National Assembly that the Inquiry would cost $112 million, funded from a total of $193,008 million under the category of Other expenditure for the Office of the President (OP).
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