Norton disagrees with Ogunseye’s ‘language’
Buckling under immense pressure to speak out against the “racist and divisive” statements by Tacuma Ogunseye, an Executive Member of the Working People’s Alliance (WPA), Opposition Leader, Aubrey Norton broke his silence on Thursday and said that the “wrong choice of language” may have been used.
“The Opposition believes that Mr. Tacuma Ogunseye’s right to free speech must be respected even though we believe that his language could have been better chosen,” Norton said at a virtual press conference on Thursday.
Later, the Opposition Leader clearly stated that he does not endorse the inciting comments but urged members of the public and the government to focus on the substantive issues raised by Ogunseye.
Norton was also critical of the demeaning statements made by another WPA Executive Member, Rhonda Layne against the East Indian community.
According to him, the Opposition is against any speech that “treats any ethnic group with any form of disrespect.”
At a recent public meeting, Ogunseye called on Afro-members of the Disciplined Services to ‘turn their guns’ on the People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPP/C) government. He also accused the government of deploying discriminatory policies that disproportionately impact some Guyanese.
At that same meeting, Layne referred to East Indians in Guyana as those who came from the “slums” in India.
At Thursday’s press conference, Norton zeroed in on Ogunseye’s statements, noting that he agreed with some of Ogunseye’s concerns, contending that there are fewer Afro-Guyanese benefiting from government contracts.
“A lot of people in our constituency believe that while the language was not the best, he (Ogunseye) correctly described the situation they find themselves in,” Norton added.
Both statements from the WPA members have drawn much condemnation. And the country’s Attorney General Anil Nandall called for a full investigation into Ogunseye’s statement, noting that it amounts to several criminal offences, including but not limited to, sedition, seditious libel, inciting riotous behaviour and exciting racial hostility in order to create a breakdown of law and order within the State of Guyana.
Norton, however, disagreed with Nandlall.
“Any attempts to use the law against Mr. Ogunseye will further erode the guardrails of democracy.
“It will add to the continued violation of the rule of law by the PPP/C,” Norton said.