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Ramotar shrugs off finger-pointing over Crum-Ewing’s execution

President Donald Ramotar (seated centre in blue shirt) with officers of the Guyana Police Force.

President Donald Ramotar on Thursday sought to shift responsibility away from his political corner for the gunning down of a political activist Tuesday night at Diamond, East Bank Demerara.

His administration and ruling party have been blamed by the political opposition for the gunning down of Courtney Crum-Ewing while on a loud hailer urging residents to go out and vote in the May 11, 2015 general and regional elections.

Ramotar condemned the killing and urged that every effort be made to bring the killers to justice.  “I wish from this forum to out rightly condemn that action and to call on to the police force to leave no stone unturned in finding those who perpetrated this crime and if necessary and if it exists to find the intellectual authors of this criminal act that was committed,” he said.

Noting that he has already heard that Crum-Ewing’s death was the first political assassination for the election season, the President challenged accusers to come forward and provide information to the police or they could be accused.  “Otherwise, what they are saying could be construed as being instigation and want to instigate violence in our country,” he said.

The opposition coalition A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) and the Alliance For Change (AFC) have sought to link the killing of Crum-Ewing to the ruling People’s Progressive Party (PPP) and  Former President Bharrat Jagdeo’s comments about race and politics earlier this week.

Crum-Ewing, a former Guyana Defence Force (GDF) officer, rose to prominence when he held daily protests outside the office of the Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall for allegedly violent suggestions he had made in a recorded conversation with Kaieteur News reporter Leonard Gildharie. Crum-Ewing had accused Nandlall of being corrupt and racist. The Attorney General has in past dismissed those assertions.  Crum-Ewing had been detained by police on a number of occasions during the period he had protested outside Nandlall’s office.

Head of the Criminal Investigations Department, Assistant Commissioner Leslie James  said so far investigators have been unable to glean any useful information from private surveillance camera footage and that ballistic tests on several .32 spent shells have not yet been conducted. He said no one has been detained for questioning. Asked about Crum-Ewing’s background, the top detective said he had no information to suggest that the victim might have been involved in shady activities.  “This is a murder investigation and all aspects  of it will be checked out,”  he said when asked about several death-threat reports that had been made by Crum-Ewing at the Brickdam Police Station. The probe is also expected to include his political activism, James said.

As political campaigning heats up ahead of what is expected to be the most keenly contest elections in decades, the President hoped that election season would be free of threats, intimidation and physical abuse. “I want to ensure that on election night and after the results of the general and regional elections are known that the environment must be sustained and all political parties contesting the elections must pledge their support to the Guyana Police Force and the Joint Services.

“They must appeal to their constituency and their staff to display maturity and patriotism to demonstrate to the world that we are a progressive and responsible people,” he said.

The Guyanese leader appealed to everyone in government and opposition to strengthen the country’s security rather than having “opposition for the sake of having opposition”  by, for example, voting down amendments to the financial crimes law and objecting to a US$15 million loan from the Inter American Development Bank. The opposition and government have been at loggerheads for almost three years over ways to strengthen the Anti Money Laundering and Countering of Financing Terrorism Act.