…says will treat any charges as a “political matter” to spur civil disobedience protests
In his first public response following the furor caused by his statements at a public meeting in Buxton a few weeks ago, Working People’s Alliance (WPA) executive member Tacuma Ogunseye has shown defiance, and has even said he would plead guilty “with explanation” if charges are brought against him.
During a virtual press conference, Ogunseye, with the support of the WPA party, doubled down on his previous comments. In fact, the party said they have “nothing to apologise for or retreat from,” with Ogunseye also affirming that he is ready to face any potential charges.
“We are prepared to use civil disobedience as an effective political weapon… When we look at the lineup of charges they have been uttering, treason seems to be the most severe of the threats,” Ogunseye said.
“WPA publicly resolved that once they come with treason charges, we will not treat it as a legal matter. We will see it as a political matter, and I would go to court and plead guilty with explanation. That is our attitude to the charges.”
However, he noted that he has not been contacted by the Guyana Police Force (GPF). As it relates to his choice of words, Ogunseye was adamant that they were appropriate in the context of “street corner” politics.
“In terms of whether the Police have made contact with me, the answer is no. And as far as I know, they have not made contact with any WPA person who spoke on the platform…our choice of language, we’re not in Parliament,” he said.
“We’re at the street corner, and our understanding of the Guyana street corner politics is: when you go to the street corner, you gotta roll up your sleeves. Our language was appropriate for the street corner,” Ogunseye said.
The statements made at the WPA meeting have already faced widespread condemnation from a wide cross-section of civil society and Government, including some Opposition Members such as Geeta Chandan-Edmond, Ganesh Mahipaul, Daniel Seeram and Georgetown Mayor Ubraj Narine. Opposition Leader Aubrey Norton, while questioning Ogunseye’s choice of words, had also defended the politician’s right to free speech.
At a recent press conference, Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo had said the Guyana Police Force should take action once it determines the law was breached. However, he had also pointed out that the Police often get intimidated in cases that involve political players. But he maintained that the Police have to act impartially.
“If they (politicians) breached the law, then the Police have to act swiftly on these matters that can cause a rift among our people. We have to fight racism with every bit of tool that we have in this country. That’s the only way this country can have a sustainable future,” he declared.
“We have to fight racism. We’ve equipped the Police with the tools. They have the Racial Hostility Act; they have a whole range of tools at their disposal. They have to move swiftly, and not be intimidated, and have to prove that they’re acting impartially or partially,” Jagdeo further posited.
He went on to note that some politicians deliberately accuse the Police of being partisan, so that the Force becomes cautious and would tiptoe around taking condign action against them. This way, he noted, these individuals are allowed to perpetuate their illegalities. (G3)