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GUYANA: Walter Rodney Commission of Inquiry to resume after lingering uncertainty

Home Affairs Minister Clement Rohee

Home Affairs Minister Clement Rohee is slated to take the witness stand when the International Commission of Inquiry (COI) into the death of Walter Rodney reconvenes on January 26th, Attorney-at-Law Joseph Harmon says.

During an interview with Caribbean News Desk today Harmon said thatCommission recently circulated notices advising the date for the next hearing and the names of three witnesses who will appear. Harmon, who serves as Counsel for the Ex-GDF Association in the inquiry, says he is very interested in what Rohee has to say, particular in light of all but imminent general elections.

Harmon believes it no coincidence that the inquiry into Walter Rodney’s death coincides with what President Donald Ramotar has said will be an election year, and he says that the suspicions critics have harbored concerning the inquiry have been vindicated.

Meanwhile, Cabinet Secretary, Roger Luncheon, also shared that the COI is slated to reconvene for hearings at the end of this month. He was not able to give the exact date but he did say that the January session is run for one week.During his post-Cabinet press brief today Luncheon said that “Cabinet was informed about the 2015 planned programme of activities of the Commission” and that hearings will take place in the law library of the Supreme Court.” Hearings are also to be held in February and March.

“A satisfaction by the administration of the Commission was provided to cabinet with the financial, the logistics and other arrangement that would allow the terms of reference of the COI to be implemented.” Posed a question on whether the COI is in a position financially to continue its mandate Luncheon said “I don’t believe that the talks of drying up (of funds) can be in any way sustained the presence of the satisfaction that has been conveyed to cabinet about those arrangements, financial and otherwise.”

Uncertainty about the recommencement of public hearings had been lingering especially given the remarks that had been made by the Chairman of the Commission Sir Richard Cheltenham on November 7, 2014. “We will issue a notice well in advance as to when next we will be meeting, but the days and months ahead might be uncertain. Even though we have agreed on a date, we will let you know closer to the time because we may have to change depending on what is happening on the ground,” he had said just three days before the suspension of the Parliament to avert the opposition’s passage of a no-confidence motion.

Last year, Junior Finance Minister Juan Edghill told the National Assembly that the Inquiry into the June 13,1980 bomb-blast death of the Working People’s Alliance (WPA) co-leader would cost GUY$112 million, funded from a total of GUY$193,008 million under the category of Other expenditure for the Office of the President (OP).

Appointed by the President to conduct the Inquiry as Sir Richard Cheltenham of Barbados, (Chairman), Jacqueline Samuels Brown, SC, and Seenath Jairam, SC.