News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Fri. Aug. 24, 2012: I’m appalled that Guyana’s opposition politicians have agreed for former Chancellor of Guyana’s Judiciary and current Chairman of the Police Complaints Authority, Justice Cecil Kennard, to serve on the Linden Commission of Inquiry.
It appears that his selection by the ruling Peoples Progressive Party, PPP, may be in contemplation of naming him chairman of the commission. This selection is unacceptable.
Many of us believe Justice Kennard was a partisan PPP enforcer in the judiciary. His involvement in what is believed to be a diabolical and dastardly plan to swear in Mrs. Janet Jagan as President in 1997, while votes were literally still being counted and before a final and gazetted declaration of the general elections results rightly provoked serious and justifiable questions about his partisan politics and integrity.
No one was oblivious of the fact that Mr. Kannard installed Mrs. Jagan as President under grave controversy because he was fully aware that the constitution proscribes inquiry into the installation of a President, once the oath has been administered and signed, except via an election petition. Hence, his conduct in my opinion was an impeachable abuse of power.
What was even worst is that Mr. Kennard, while serving as head of the country’s judiciary, deliberately flouted an order of then Madam Chief Justice Desiree Bernard, enjoining him from proceeding with the administration of the oath of the presidency to Mrs. Jagan. As if this contempt was not enough, he stood seemingly gleefully and said absolutely nothing as Mrs. Jagan’s bodyguards violently assaulted the chief marshal of the courts of Guyana while serving her with the order of the Chief Justice. And Mr. Kennard disgracefully gloated as Janet Jagan publicly threw away that order prohibiting her from participating in the investiture ceremony which he was then unlawfully conducting.
As a young man involved in politics, I stood in shock as I witnessed Mr. Kennard’s antics. His conduct and actions were contemptuous of the nation and injurious to the judiciary. It directly plunged the country in turmoil and violent conflict.
What was even more shocking is that when a reporter asked Mr. Kennard about his questionable and obviously partisan actions and noted that he was being severely criticized by former President Desmond Hoyte and others, his response was “Let them go to hell.” I live in the US where the rule of law is supreme and unchallenged, and had traveled back to Guyana to help my former boss, Desmond Hoyte, with the 1997 general elections. Mr. Kennard’s conduct was incredulously stunning to me and caused me to lose faith and confidence in Guyana’s judiciary.
This notwithstanding, as Chair of the Police Complaints Authority, Cecil Kennard did not even attempt to rehabilitate his reputation. Despite unprecedented and pervasive police corruption, extra-judicial killings, high profile alleged police rapes, complaints about drug links, executions, ties to criminal elements and police excesses and abuse, he has not conducted a single investigation of note that has held a police official to account.
Cognizant of all the above, how and why did the leaders of the APNU and AFC agree for a person of Cecil Kennard’s standing to serve on the Commission of Inquiry into the Police killing and shooting of Lindeners?
I strongly denounce their acceptance of Cecil Kennard on the commission. What are our leaders really doing to our people? This decision is unacceptable.
Therefore I call on Lindeners and the combined political opposition to summarily reject Mr. Kennard!
EDITOR’S NOTE: Rickford Burke is President of the Caribbean Guyana Institute for Democracy.