Dear Editor,The ERC’s Report on GECOM’s hiring practice is devastating and humiliating for GECOM. Although the ERC did not explicitly say it, their description of the behaviour of GECOM’s high officials exposes a scandalous, shameful, disgraceful example of political malfeasance.Clearly, GECOM had something very sinister to hide. They stonewalled the ERC by a total refusal to submit evidence. Their non-cooperation was nothing but an inability to defend themselves from the charge of Commissioner Robeson Benn — that GECOM are practising bias and discrimination in their hiring practice.One thing is clear: senior officials of GECOM violated the law; cooperation with the ERC is not an option, it is required under the law. Failure to meet with the ERC and failure to submit documents requested by the ERC are both unlawful. GECOM is a constitutional, statutory body; it is not, and never was envisaged to be, another talk shop. It is a body with powers to reprimand. GECOM’s officials must be charged for not complying with the ERC’s requests for interview and for submission of documents.Whether people are hired or not hired because of their ethnicity or because of their perceived political belief, it is equally reprehensible and it is unlawful. In this context, therefore, was Vishnu Persaud denied the job of Deputy Chief Elections Officer because he was an Indo-Guyanese, or because he was not affiliated with the PNC (APNU/AFC), or is there any other reason?The ERC’s report is unequivocal: the non-renewal of Mr. Persaud’s contract or his non-hiring had nothing to do with his qualifications; his experience; his previous performance at GECOM, particularly in the relevant job; or his behaviour and inter-personal relationships.The ERC Report did not say it explicitly, but an objective examination of the ERC Report reveals that Mr Persaud was not hired because GECOM held that Persaud’s ethnicity was a negative, and this was compounded by his record of political impartiality.Persaud’s Indo-Guyanese ethnicity and his fierce political independence disqualified him in GECOM’s eyes. Even as GECOM try their best to be the loyal poodle of President Granger and APNU/AFC, as they abrogate the Constitution and refuse to prepare for elections as mandated by the Constitution, they are caught red-handed in the scandal of bias and discrimination.Even as the ERC tried their best to be generous and not ascribe ulterior, ugly motives on GECOM’s part, GECOM are guilty of discrimination and bias.The facts are incontrovertible. GECOM rejected the most qualified, most experienced, and the highest-scoring, highest-ranking candidate for the position of Deputy Chief Elections Officer. GECOM never had a problem with Persaud’s previous performance as the PRO and as the Deputy Chief Elections Officer. The ERC Report stated as follows: “Dr Surujbally was quite vocal. He described Mr. Persaud’s performance as PRO and as DCEO as very good. Persaud “held the fort as CEO on several occasions”, and was “an excellent scribe for the commission for 12 years.Further, apart from his very good work-related performances, Persaud was described “as being of good character; who employed tact, prudence, wisdom and honesty” in the discharge of his duties. Dr. Surujbally posited that Persaud has “vast institutional knowledge and memory” of the workings of the commission, he and could “vouch for his academic qualifications.”But the ERC report did not only provide the exact words of Surujbally praising Persaud’s work, the report cited the testimony of Keith Lowenfield, the present CEO: “In summary, the CEO described Persaud in good terms, good, interpersonal relationship, good work performances and job in his capacity as DCEO and undertook varied responsibilities associated with other jobs. The CEO concurred with the expression by the former Chairman that Persaud was “his best man, bright young fellow, best man for the company” and “yes, best for the benefit of the agency”.In spite of his qualifications and experience and his excellent job appraisals, vouched for by Persaud’s senior bosses, GECOM instead appointed a candidate that had no experience in elections. The rejected candidate happens to be an Indo-Guyanese, and he has had no history of being close to any political party. The appointed candidate happens to be an Afro-Guyanese and is known to be closely-associated with the PNC.So why did GECOM choose Ms Myers over Vishnu Persaud? Some say it is because of politics, others say it is because of race. Whichever it is, each is equally a potent poison pill, each is equally reprehensible; and in Guyana, either one is a crime.The ERC Report chooses to leave the conclusion up to people, but the report is filled with disgusting, scandalous, shameful examples of misbehaviour and political malfeasance by GECOM. One of the clear messages in the ERC Report is the unequivocal non-cooperation by senior GECOM officials. The Chairman of GECOM promised to address concerns and bring documentation to a meeting with GECOM. He never showed up, and he never delivered most of these important documents. Ms. Roxanne Myers, the person who was appointed as Deputy Chief Elections Officer, never showed up for an appointment with the ERC. Importantly, the Human Resources Director, Ms Marcia Crawford, refused to meet with the ERC.Not only did these officers not show up, they promised to deliver documents and never did. In addition to these officers not submitting documents, the Government commissioners made spurious allegations about the qualifications and job performance of Mr. Persaud without any documentation of their claims. They promised they would submit the documentation.The ERC never received those documents. The fact is that even if the ERC did not feel inclined to state the obvious, GECOM discriminated blatantly against Persaud. GECOM can pick their poison pill; race or politics; either way they are guilty of bias and discrimination, and must be held accountable.Sincerely,Dr Leslie Ramsammy
Dear Editor,The Cummingsburg talks are underway and the AFC is getting its turn to deal with the doyen of duplicity, David Granger. The main issue is the position of (PM) prime ministerial candidate; the AFC wants it and Granger has other plans. In the terms of the 2015 Accord, the PM slot on the ticket was guaranteed to whomever the AFC nominated, this time around, Khemraj Ramjattan is the nominee but Granger said “I cannot say now, who I would be running with, but I can assure you that the two groups are reviewing the 2015 accord and we hope to come up with a revised accord” and “It is not prudent to anticipate the outcome of negotiations,”. Based on months of listening to Granger prevaricate and temporise following the successful No-Confidence Motion, I can safely pronounce that “Prak cork duck”. He will not be the PM candidate; he can go all the way to the CCJ, win, and still not be the candidate.It is with a sense of karmic satisfaction that I watch Granger put Khemraj et al on his ‘merry-go-round’. The country experienced Granger’s no-confidence duplicity that included “awaiting the outcome of the Judicial process”, “abide by the provisions of the Constitution”, “credible elections in the shortest possible time” and “GECOM is responsible for setting the date, not me” while Khemraj Ramjattan and his AFC cohorts cheered him (Granger) on. Prak should now cut a rod and go learn to fish in the backdam because he must know that you can only sell your soul to the devil once. That is the ‘accord’ the AFC signed in 2015. Granger now owns the AFC and will do with them what he will.Respectfully,Robin Singh
CANU’s CoIAmidst criticism of its establishment, the Commission of Inquiry into allegations of corruption at theSelf-confessed drug lord Barry DataramCustoms Anti-Narcotics Unit (CANU) on Monday heard the testimony of self-confessed drug lord Barry Dataram.Dataram appeared unrepresented before single Commissioner, Retired Brigadier Bruce Lovell at the Ministry of the Presidency’s Department of the Public Service Office on Vlissengen Road.The inquiry heard of allegations that CANU officers have with drug traffickers. The retired Brigadier was appointed by President David Granger to probe allegations which Dataram expressed in an on-camera interview with HGPTV Nightly News in February.Dataram reportedly disclosed that he based his testimony on what he knows about CANU’s operations. Earlier this year, during an interview with television reporter Travis Chase the self-confessed drug dealer alleged that senior officials of CANU are involved in illegal drug activities. He had also stated that one of the agents bagged some “$10 million in exchange” for allowing cocaine to leave the country.Dataram had also told the newscast that CANU was “the biggest drug dealer” this country has and alleged that half of drugs seized “goes back on the street”.Dataram had further alleged that staff associated with CANU would obtain $5 million upfront from the trafficker while the balance of 50 per cent would be paid on arrival of the cocaine in Canada or the United States. Following the numerous allegations, President David Granger had revealed that the National Security Committee (NSC) headed by himself had decided to establish a Board of Inquiry to look into the allegations.However, the Opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP) in a statement had said while it supports any effort to ensure that CANU maintains its integrity and professionalism, it was dismayed at the President’s haste to probe allegations made by a known drug trafficker who is seeking to bring into disrepute the whole of CANU. Public Security Minister Khemraj Ramjattan who supported the probe had stated he was confident CANU would be exonerated.He had rubbished Dataram’s claims, and stated that, “I disbelieve all of them but that’s my opinion. It’s like Pablo Escobar saying that the Drug Enforcement Agency is not a good thing because of course he has interests but indeed we have to pay attention to what was said to clear it up and I want to believe that an inquiry would be the best way to deal with it.”CANU Head James Singh said Dataram’s “savagery” against CANU may be as a result of his uneasiness owing to the commencement of his trial for possession of 129.230kg of cocaine found in shrimp at his Lot 661 Fourth Avenue, Block X, Diamond, East Bank Demerara, residence on April 16, 2015.
The increase in gold prices on the international market could help Guyana surpass its targeted production. The increase follows the United Kingdom’s (UK’s) vote to leave the European Union (EU) last Friday.Natural Resources Minister Raphael Trotman told the Government Information Agency (GINA) in an invited comment that “We’re happy that our (gold) prices have increased.”However, Trotman added “We’re not happy that our increases comes really on the back of a broken system elsewhere.” Gold is now trading at just over US00 per ounce on the international market.This increase on the international market is likely to help Guyana surpass its targeted production and declaration in gold locally. Guyana’s budgeted target for gold production this year is 550,000 ounces.“I don’t want to reveal what is our target internally but we’re working on a target that goes past 550,000 ounces. So I would say that we’re doing relatively well in the circumstances,” Trotman noted. He added that he would like to see production declaration surpass 600,000.Additionally, Trotman told GINA that as a “citizen of the world,” the situation in Europe concerns us all. “Stability is what the world wants so anything that disrupts the national or global order is something that we should all be concerned about,” Trotman said.“In as much as we’re happy for the increase in gold prices, very happy, we also would like to see stability and normalcy in all parts of the world including Europe,” the Natural Resources Minister added. Over the past year, the price of gold has declined significantly.In 2015, gold prices steadily tumbled, with a drastic drop. Experts had predicted that gold prices would have continue to slump, hitting a more than a five-year low, with a high possibility that the precious metal could plunge to a detrimental US00 per ounce.Compounding the situation was the fact that, the cost of production, particularly for the small and medium-scale miners of gold and diamond, had remained largely unchanged.
An accident involving three cars on the Robertsfield highway Sunday, April 20, led to the death of 4 persons with others in critical condition.According to authorities at the Du-side Hospital in Harbel, Margibi County, where some of the victims were transferred to, the deadly accident involved three cars; 2 gray Nissans and a black Honda Accord driven by a man indentified as Moses S. Massaquoi.The operator of one of the gray Nissans, identified as Alpha Sangary, died upon arrival at the Du-side Hospital.Others killed in the fatal accident include: Augustine Fallah, 37; Agnes Chukepue Fallah, 26; and Justina Browne, all of whom were declared dead upon arrival by Du-side’s medical practitioners.This paper was informed that three of the accident’s victims were relatives of Ms. Gloria T. Tamba, a reporter of the Daily Observer newspaper.The members of her family, Mr. Augustine Fallah, Madam Justina Browne, and Agnes Chukepue Fallah, were on their way to Monrovia when they met their sad and untimely ends.According to Gloria, the family had gone to attend a wedding in Harbel, Margibi County, and was on their way back to their residence in Chicken Soup Factory, Monrovia.She explained that their remains have been taken to the Abraham Robert Funeral Home to await burial.“We will have the burial of Agnes Fallah and Justina Browne on Thursday, while Mr. Augustine Fallah’s funeral will be arranged later,” Ms. Tamba revealed. Du-Side Hospital’s authorities told reporters that they transferred nine of the accident survivors to the John F. Kennedy Medical Center on Monday, April 21, for further medical treatment.“We received a total of 17 persons from the accident on Sunday night. Four were confirmed dead on arrival by doctors, while 13 were in critical condition,” a staff of the hospital not authorized to speak with the media disclosed.Those transferred to the JFK Hospital include: Korto Mulbah, Rachel Fayiah, Rosetta Fallah, Real Mabutu, and Evelyn Mulbah.Others are: Mohammed Jalloh, Andrew Juah, Ansu Browne, and a man identified as Wadman.The Daily Observer offers our deepest sympathies to the families of the deceased, and we pray for the timely recovery of the injured.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
The national first and second division basketball leagues begin today at the Sports Commission on Broad Street, amidst the threat of rain.Virtually youthful outfit Kardinals, (3rd division champions) will rub shoulders with Deviers in the opening game at 5:p.m. while the triple champs LPRC Oilers will meet the tough 2nd division champions, Barnersville Celtic, at 6:30pm.On Thursday, April 3, Uhuru Prince will face Du-Runners at 5:p.m. and C-Base will lock horns with S. Brothers.However, the late starting of the basketball league has raised serious concerns among basketball fans.Basketball fan Emmanuel Diggs complained about the late beginning of the league and said the league should have completed the first phase at the Sports Commission and continue with the second phase at the Samuel K. Doe’s Gym, during the raining season.“As a number one priority and due to safety playing the game in the raining season is not the best decision to take,” basketball fan, Jeremy Parker said.Meanwhile, Liberia’s basketball chief scribe Allen Goodridge, regretted the opening of the tournament in April, but said it was due to the lack of funds.The 2013 LBA League closed on Saturday, March 22 instead of between November 2013 and February 2014. Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
This year’s 2nd Micro Small Medium Enterprise (MSME) Conference highlights the importance of the youth’s participation in agriculture for employment opportunities.The conference was held at the Monrovia City Hall from Tuesday, April 29-30, bringing together over 500 participants in the business sector of Liberia. It spotlights agriculture and agri-business experiences in Liberia.Agriculture is essential to the development of Liberia as it is a very big industry with the potential to provide jobs for the vast majority of the youthful Liberian population. In spite of this, unemployment remains a major challenge facing young people in Liberia. This situation exists because of the belief among young people in the country that farming is not a worthy venture.Matthew Ndote of the USAID Advancing Youth Project, Nelson Kanneh of USAID Food and Enterprise Development Project and Junior Toe of the Community Youth Network Program Inc made presentations at the conference. They discussed strategies that would develop the Liberian youth’s interest in the agriculture sector.In separate presentations during the just ended two-day USAID-assisted Ministry of Commerce and Industry Micro/Small and Medium Enterprise (MSME) Conference 2014, the speakers said with a population of 3.8 million people in Liberia, 60% of that number constituted the youth. Out of said 60%, only 3% are involved in agriculture, whereas 70% of Liberia’s GDP is in the agriculture sector and there is still high unemployment among the youth.According to Mr. Kanneh, “agriculture has a poor image in many parts of Africa. Liberia is no exception.’” In his opinion, young people can be the catalyst to change that image and add skills and needed innovation. “Employing the nation’s youth would help reduce crime and social instability” he added.During his presentation, Mr. Junior Toe said “the sector has not provided enough information on opportunities with less labor. Information on quick income returns such as aggregators, sales agents, and managing farming records, machine operators and mechanics, extension technicians, short term labor services to farmers, and market intelligence / broker services must be shared with the youth.The session was moderated by USAID Advancing Youth Livelihood Coordinator, Matthew Ndote, who called on Liberian youth to develop and sustain their interest in agriculture and agronomic practices. He said these are things that will improve their economic situation and that of the country. Mr. Ndote said there are a lot of opportunities in Liberia that youth who wants to go into agriculture can take advantage off. He said they should not allow those opportunities to pass them by.The conference was attended by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and some top government officials of Liberia, with the support of USAID FED, IBEX, Building Markets, IFC, and BSC Monrovia amongst other partners, stakeholders and civil society organizations. The objective of the event was to allow the government to take stock of the MSME sector in Liberia and help deliver key training workshops to assist MSMEs in all stages of development, and examine practical steps that other key players including banks, micro finance institutions, and concessionaires can take to promote sustainable growth leading to employment creation and jobs.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
Guyana’s 50th Independence Celebration Committee (New York) has announced final plans for its one week “Guyana Jubilee Celebration NYC” from June 4-12, in the Tri-State area.This will be the largest celebration outside of Guyana.The celebration kicks off on Saturday, June 4, at 13:00h with an interfaith service at the York College Performing Arts Theatre, at 94-45 Guy R Brewer Blvd, Jamaica, Queens. This will be preceded by an inter-county cricket match at 09:30h, at the Idiewild Park Springfield Blvd & 149th Ave, Rosedale, Queens.A symposium on Guyana’s independence journey is planned for Sunday, June 5, at 09:00h at the York College Large Lecture Theatre, at 94-20 Guy Brewer Blvd, Queens, while on Monday, June 6, there will be an exhibition of Guyanese art from 10:00h at Aljira Centre for Contemporary Art, 591 Broad St, Newark, NJ.The following day, June 7, will see a live radio broadcast from the famous Sybil’s Restaurant at 13217 Liberty Ave, Jamaica, Queens, at 19:00h.On Wednesday, June 8 – which is Guyanese Volunteer Day – Guyanese medical doctors, nurses and lawyers will provide free medical and legal services at various locations in Brooklyn, Queens and New Jersey.Locations are listed on the Committee’s website, www.celebrateguyana50thinnyc.com.On Thursday, June 9, there will be the official flag raising ceremony at Newark City Hall Square, at 920 Broad St, Newark, NJ. This will be done by the Mayor of Newark, Ras Baraka.Friday, June 10 is “Invest Guyana” Business and Investment conference at 09:00h, at the Harvard Club of New York, located at 35 W 44th St, New York, NY.Speakers include Guyana’s Business Minister Dominic Gaskin, Finance Minister Winston Jordan, Natural Resources Minister Raphael Trotman, Public Infrastructure Minister David Patterson, Tourism Minister Cathy Hughes, Public Security Minister Khemraj Ramjattan, Social Cohesion Minister Amna Ally and Agriculture Minister Noel Holder.On Saturday, June 10, there will be the President Cup Soccer Tournament at the South Shore High School Park, located at 6565 Flatlands Ave, Brooklyn, NY (at the corners of Ralph and Flatlands Avenues) at 10:00h.The Black Tie, Red Carpet official Jubilee state dinner will take place on Saturday, June 11, at 20:00h, at the Sheraton New York Times Square Hotel and Towers, located at 811 7th Avenue & W 53rd St, New York, NY. Keynote Speaker is Guyana’s Head of State David Granger.The grand finale of Guyana Jubilee Celebration NYC, the Independence Parade, is on Sunday, June 12, in Brooklyn. The parade will start at 11:30h, at the intersection of Church and Utica Avenues and will proceed West to Ralph Ave, turn South into Ralph Ave and ends at Ralph and Flatlands Avenues – a 3.3 miles route.A grand after parade, unity concert will take place at 16:00h on Sunday, June 12, at South Shore High School Park, at 6565 Flatlands Ave, Brooklyn NY (at the corners of Ralph and Flatlands Avenue).The New York Jubilee Committee is asking all Guyanese to showcase the Golden Arrowhead (Guyana’s flag) during Guyana Jubilee NYC from June 4 – 12. For more information of the New York celebration, visit their website or call 929-263-2556 or 212-947-5115.
Last week, the Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection, Julia Duncan Cassell, started the distribution of bicycles, motorbikes and a Land Cruiser vehicle — all donated by UNICEF — to the Ministry’s coordinators in Buchanan, Grand Bassa County.Making the presentation, Minister Cassell said the logistical materials were intended to enable officers of the Child Welfare Department assigned to political subdivisions, including districts, chiefdoms and clans, to move around and collect data on abuses against women, children and the elderly.“As you all are aware, the issue of children is so important. Abuse, rape, sexual and gender-based violence as well as domestic violence, all of these have to be curtailed,” she said. “These materials will enable our coordinators in the various counties to carry on their work smoothly.”Sidestepping the cost of the donated logistical materials, Cassell instead warned the end users to handle them with proper care “so they serve the purpose for which they were intended.”Qualifying the reason for providing bicycles as part of the logistical materials, she said that they help reduce maintenance cost “as maintenance cost for bicycles will not be as high as motorbikes and vehicles.” The Minister used the occasion to call on parents to help the government in the fight against sexual and gender-based violence.“Let us stop abusing our children; let us send our girls and other children to school. Let’s make our girl children reach their full potential,” she said.“We must allow our girl and boy children to have equal opportunities. Treat them equally as children because your girl child can become the next minister, bishop, president, or any other position in the country.”Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
Award wining Liberian poet, Lekepele Nyamalon, has returned to his alma mater, Ricks Institute, with an open poetry exhibition which he hopes will help discover and foster creative writing talents.Held under the theme “Ebola Recovery Night of Poetry”, the event brought together more than 15 poems from students of the school, creating a platform on which they can showcase their writings while expressing thoughts and feelings about the Ebola virus.“I’m amazed by the outstanding talents of these young writers, as well as the expression and vision they have shown in these works. I’m of a stronger conviction that you’re the next generation of Liberian writers,” Nyamalon said.He said that poetry takes much more than originality in expressing one’s thoughts and experiences and is also meant to present to the world knowledge that, even though beneficial in understanding everyday’s problems, has escaped the minds of many people.“I’m happy that you were able to recount your knowledge about Ebola and express it through artistic works that have stirred the mind and emotion,” he said, further congratulating the students for showcasing their poetry.Patrick Dahn, an 11-grade student whose family was quarantined during the Ebola outbreak, read a rousing poem that brought tears to the eyes of a few people in the audience.Among the participants was Shirley Beyslow, a student from the six-grade. Of the elementary section she was the only representative. Nyamalon said a poet should be more inventive in his choice of words while expressing self- confidence, adding that poetry should be able to stimulate interest and provoke discussions.“A good poet is one that reads constantly, and I hope that you continue this dream,” he said. “Your works exhibited here show exceptional talents and mark the beginning of a poetry revolution among you.”“In your tender and loving hands the future of the nation is entrusted, in your innocent hearts the pride of the nation is enshrined, on your scholastic development the salvation of the nation is dependent. As you leave this hall you carry the future of Liberia and Africa in your school bags,” he added.Ms. Precious Marshall, the Director of Administration at Ricks Institute, said that the school remains committed and dedicated in molding the minds of Liberian youth as future leaders of the nation.She added that the school is proud of the participants and will do all it can to nurture the creative talents of the students.Congratulating the students for their works, she said that the “poems express what we as a nation and people have felt and experienced about Ebola.”“Clearly, we will soon forget to tell the real story and its effects. But with these works, I’m sure that future generations will get to realize what all of us felt during the Ebola crisis,” she explained.“You people have shown great talent. The clarity and brilliance of your description give the readers a feeling of being present on the scene,” she added.Ms. Massa Mamey, who is an instructor at Ricks Institute, said, “I’m not surprised by the creative talents shown by our students. From the outset, I have believed in their ability and the poems produced here are heart-touching.”She said that although the administration did help the students in breaking their poems into stanzas and editing minor subject-verb agreement, the creativity and expressions are the students’ own.“My hope is that the administration can continue just such a talent hunt,” she concluded.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)