Nagamootoo accuses 'New Nation' of conspiracy
September 19, 1999
INFORMATION Minister, Mr. Moses Nagamootoo has accused the `New Nation', official organ of the Minority People's National Congress (PNC), of trying to create a rift between himself and President Bharrat Jagdeo.
In a statement issued Friday, Nagamootoo said the organ had in its issues over the last month placed him "at the centre of its web of deceit and conspiracy."
"More specifically, `New Nation' has employed falsehoods to manufacture rumours and fuel speculation with the wicked intent of creating a rift between President Bharrat Jagdeo and I, and mistrust between former President Ms. Janet Jagan and I", the minister said.
He denied a `New Nation' claim that Ms. Jagan had arranged for him to visit the United States so she could in his absence put Mr. Jagdeo into the presidency.
"Ms. Jagan had nothing to do with my visit to the United States. My family and I went on a private vacation, which was planned well in advance", the Information Minister said.
Referring to the PNC organ's claim that Mr. Jagdeo's elevation to the presidency was a product of intense PPP infighting, Nagamootoo said he "took part in the decision for the inclusion of Bharrat Jagdeo in the PPP/Civic's electoral `A' team in 1997."
"It was the collective decision of the party's leadership. There was no infighting", he stated.
"Whether or not I was in Guyana at the time President Jagan resigned, I would have supported the decision for Bharrat Jagdeo to be named President in her place.
"Bharrat Jagdeo became the President of Guyana in accordance with a principle that defined the role and place of the PPP and its Civic allies in the government. That principle is both democratic and constitutional", Nagamootoo noted.
On the `New Nation' suggestion that much bitterness and hostility had developed between himself and the President, Nagamootoo said:
"President Bharrat Jagdeo and I enjoy politically correct and comradely relations. It is natural to have vigorous disagreements on tactical issues, but we share in common the conviction of our party for a better Guyana.
"We are also committed to the principles of cooperation and collective leadership."
He said it was a "total fabrication" that he had undertaken to write a biography on Ms. Jagan and that the manuscript was with the printers when she resigned as President.
"I have sent no such manuscript for publication", the Information Minister declared.
In addition, it was not true that the government called in the Auditor General and the Police to investigate a small amount of money missing from the Ministry of Information.
"It was I who sought the intervention of the Auditor General's office and the Police. I insisted on a full investigation into alleged misappropriation of funds, and I demanded that appropriate action be taken in the matter", Nagamootoo said.
He called the `New Nation' claim that he was a special target of an anti-Nagamootoo group inside the PPP (People's Progressive Party) "a cheap attempt at sowing mistrust and division in the party's leadership."
"It smacks of hypocrisy, coming from the PNC which had tried without success to bully, bribe and silence me."
"For the past 35 years I shared membership in the PPP with a generation of exemplary political leaders and activists. We have always made the firmest unity in our leadership a primary focus.
"This runs contrary to the notion of crab barrel politics of making each other `special targets'", he said.
Nagamootoo said it was also not true that he got the highest number of votes at the last PPP Congress in 1997.
"I chaired the final session of Congress when the results of election to the PPP's Central Committee were announced. Ms. Janet Jagan, then President of Guyana, polled the highest number of votes, and I came second.
"For me, the popularity rating of Ms. Jagan among the party's membership was well deserved, and a true reflection of her role as the matriarch of contemporary political developments in Guyana."
Another `New Nation' lie, Nagamootoo said, is that he is "to cut and run" and that he has sought admission to the Hugh Wooding law school in Trinidad and Tobago to continue his studies to become an attorney-at-law.
"After completing the LL.B degree (with Credit), I had secured a place at the Hugh Wooding Law School. I wanted to become an attorney but momentarily gave that up when the late President Cheddi Jagan invited me to re-join his Cabinet.
"I have not regretted that decision although some would cynically say that I had given up a chance of going after the big bucks."
On `New Nation' questioning the moral leg he stands on when it comes to the defence of journalists, Nagamootoo said:
"I have practised journalism since 1970, mainly during the PNC dictatorship and in the fight of the Guyanese people for the restoration of democracy. My journalism became part of that struggle to which I had dedicated my efforts.
"I was harassed, searched, detained, jailed and beaten by agents of the PNC dictatorship, and I survived attempts at kidnapping and assassination at the hands of goons of the illegal regime.
"When the PNC regime attacked the free press, muzzled independent journalists and destroyed professionalism, I campaigned in the Union of Guyanese Journalists, the Caribbean Media Workers Association, the Federation of Latin American Journalists and the International Organisation of Journalists, in defence of democratic journalism.
"As a journalist I stood up against PNC oppression; I used my pen, as I said at a Walter Rodney memorial, as `a weapon for the revolution'.
"Today, I am proud to be associated with leaders who have made Guyana safe for journalism, and a free media. I feel that I am part of this change, so I have every moral right to come to the defence of journalists who are today victims of PNC's post-authoritarian, sanguinary impulse.
"I hope that I have set the record straight, and that the `New Nation' would listen to criticisms and back off from touting lies.
"I hope also that it would try to reach out in constructive engagement with its perceived critics and detractors, and not malign them, as it has done to well-respected Guyanese journalists."