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Walter Rodney Commission gets more time to complete report

Late WPA Co-Founder, Dr. Walter Rodney.

The Walter Rodney Commission of Inquiry has been given two more weeks to complete and submit its report on the bomb-blast death of the Guyanese historian and politician 34 years ago, Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo said Sunday night.

In a brief exclusive interview with Demerara Waves Online News, he said he was aware that a request has been made by one of the Commissioners for an extension. “I am aware of a decision made that the inquiry, that they have to submit their report by the 15th of December,” he said

Nagamootoo could not say whether this period would allow for public hearings to be held for key witnesses to testify, in keeping with a group named Justice for Walter Rodney Committee. “No, no, no, I can’t comment beyond that, I am just saying what I am aware of. I don’t know what they would do,” he said.

The Justice For Walter Rodney Committee, through former WPA activist Karen De Souza, presented a petition to Governance Minister Raphael Trotman containing more than 1,000 signatures, calling on government to grant the extension for more witnesses to testify in the interest of having a proper probe conducted, closure and truth and reconciliation.

Back on July 27, 2015, the Commission had been given “the final extension” until November 30, 2015 to allow for the rendering of its report, findings and recommendations to the President within the specified period of the extension of the life of the Commission.

The July 8, 2015 edition of Guyana’s Official Gazette states that the Commission, whose life ended on March 31, 2015, has been extended to November 30, 2015, “being the final extension” based on advice to President David Granger.

The APNU section of the coalition had been very vocal out and in government that the Commission has been a waste of taxpayers’ monies to determine how Rodney met his death on June 13, 1980 on John Street near the Georgetown Prison. The APNU’s major partner is the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) which Rodney’s Working People’s Alliance (WPA) has consistently maintained was the main architect behind Rodney’s death.

Detractors, however, counter that Rodney died by misadventure when a bomb-in-walkie talkie exploded in his lap while he was seated in his brother, Donald’s, car. At the time of Rodney’s death, he had been waging a civil rebellion against  what had been characterized then as the PNC-led dictatorship of late President Forbes Burnham.

The device had been moments earlier provided by then Guyana Defence Force (GDF) electronics expert, Sergeant Gregory Smith with clear instructions on how to test it near the metal fence of the Georgetown Prison.

The inquiry has, among other things, been told that Rodney had been interested at the time in obtaining walkie-talkies for key party members to communicate over long distances. The Commissioners have also learned that Smith, a woman and children were flown aboard a GDF plane less than one week after the incident from Ogle Airport to Kwakwani.

Strikingly strange are missing or unavailable GDF records about the status of Smith in the army and records for the flight that had taken him to that Upper Berbice River area.

Several files from the Guyana Police Force’s intelligence gathering section known as Special Branch could not have been found to be presented to the inquiry.