Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo has declared that a “witch hunt” is underway against leaders of the People’s Progressive Party by the State Assets Recovery Unit and he wants the diplomatic and donor communities to pay close attention to the public declarations made and actions being taken by the Head of the State Assets Recovery Unit (SARU), Dr. Clive Thomas.
“The claim that new legislation is required in order to bring charges against persons who are accused of criminal offences with regards to state assets is false. Statutes already exist to bring such charges. However, the new legislation that is being touted appears to relate more to entrenching the SARU as an entity in law with powers overriding the Guyana Police Force, the Audit Office of Guyana and the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions.The parliamentary opposition is totally opposed to any such legislative instrument”, the Opposition Leader said in a statement.
Additionally, he added that public statements by the Head of the SARU, Dr. Clive Thomas, are illustrative and Thomas “appears to be consumed with a personal vendetta against the PPP.”
The Opposition Leader claims that the State Asset Recovery Unit is composed of “leading APNU+AFC political operatives, some of whom were APNU and AFC Members of the 10th Parliament.”
“The public is reminded that the SARU is housed in, and operated from, and, financed through the budget of the Ministry of the Presidency. This Unit has been created with the objective of leading the “witch hunt” of the present parliamentary opposition and leaders of the PPP. The SOCU, which was created to investigate money laundering and the financing of terrorism under the AMLCFT Act is now the operational arm that is being used to target these same individuals.”
Jagdeo said he is convinced that SARU’s role “as designed and its intent since the change of government is to target, pronounce and make wild unsubstantiated accusations against members of the parliamentary opposition and leaders of the PPP/C while proceeding to try these individuals publicly.”
The Opposition Leader said he is alerting the Guyanese public, civil society bodies, the diplomatic and donor communities of the “worrying developments which are an indicator of creeping authoritarianism undermining democracy, human rights and the rule of law”.
The PPP was accused of the same during its 23 years in office.