Leader of the small opposition Organisation for the Victory of the People, Gerald Perreira first wants members of the People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPPC) prosecuted for corruption, narco-trafficking and murder before the government engages in national unity talks with that party.
“To just speak about national unity and for them to come on board and get on board without addressing issues is not the right thing to do. It is as though these things never existed or you just sweep it aside,” Perreira told Demerara Waves Online News.
He argued that the coalition was sending mixed signals, but reconciliation and atonement could only be achieved if several burning issues such as extra-judicial killing of more than 400 persons, the PPP’s alleged connection with infamous elements, alleged illegal spending and corruption. “To get national unity, there are certain things that must be done and then when that is finished then you can put mechanisms in place for how you approached that sort of thing but for the time being is just rhetoric,” he said.
However, Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo prefers to strategically leave the door open for negotiations with the PPPC which lost narrowly to the A Partnership for National Unity+ Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) coalition especially since no one has been convicted.
“Until a court of law decides upon the guilt or innocence, I shouldn’t use that as a weapon to close the door or to use that as a pretext to close the door. I believe that the rule of law is sacred and until proven guilty the presumption of innocence works in favour of the opposition,” he told Demerara Waves Online News.
Asked whether he should not put his overtures to the PPP on hold until the various allegations reach the court and are settled, Nagamootoo said sometimes politicians work on two parallel tracks. “If you go down the way on a one-away track and for some reason that is shut, you have nowhere else to go. You have to constantly create an alternative way of doing things,” he said.
The Prime Minister believed that if the coalition and the PPP continue to talk while others are eventually jailed, there would be an even greater opportunity for bilateral discussions between those who prefer negotiated settlements and others who favour prosecution and alienation. At the same time, Nagamootoo ruled out any negotiations to avoid suspects from being charged and prosecuted in an effort to achieve national unity. “I am not going to negotiate away out of investigation and/or prosecution,” he said.
Saying that he has been always favoured national unity since his 50 years in the PPPC, Nagamootooo prefers to ensure there is always “political space” to avoid “open confrontation and violence.”
The small political parties that contested the May 11, 2015 elections but got no seat are United Republican Party (URP), The United Force (TUF), Healing The Nation Theocracy party (HTNT), the Independent Party (IP), the National Independent Party (NIP) and Organisation for the Victory of the People’s Party (OVPP). They together won 4,745 votes, far less than one seat in the National Assembly even if a post-election coalition was possible.