Mahdia tragedy: Jagdeo promises ‘all answers in the future’; condemns politicization


Vice President, Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo spoke publicly for the first time on Thursday since Sunday’s loss of lives in Mahdia, promising “all answers in the future.”

He described the fire that destroyed a student dorm and killed 19 children as “one of the worst tragedies in Guyana’s history” and one that has turned a time of independence celebration into an atmosphere of national mourning.

Asked by the News Room whether there will be a special inquiry, Jagdeo said that is a decision for the President to make.

“The matter was discussed and the President will speak on it at the appropriate time.

“We committed to giving people all the answers. So far, we know what took place but much more needs to be done and people will have the answers,” Jagdeo said.

The Vice President opened his press conference with expressions of condolences and also condemned attempts to politicize the incident and cast blame.

“I want to repeat what the President said that there is a time and place for everything.

“…and to urge those who have been so disrespectful to politicize or try to politicize this national tragedy [and] to capitalize on people’s grief is unconscionable and any attempt to do so should be condemned,” Jagdeo said.

Vice President, Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo (Photo: News Room/May 25, 2023)

He told members of the media that he has personally seen the politicization of this national tragedy in veiled forms and other times, in a flagrant manner.

“The first statement from the Leader of the Opposition [Aubrey Norton] was measured and I applaud him or that… And before I knew it, he was on television in Trinidad and Tobago politicizing the issue.

“Today, he has cancelled his press conference to go to Mahdia and attempt once again to politicize the issue,” Jagdeo said.

He noted that Norton was in the township on Wednesday during a national flower-laying ceremony and chose not to attend. He said there may not have been a formal invitation to Norton but that should not have kept him away since other people did not receive same.

“If [you’re] really concerned then just show up. I don’t think formal invites were sent,” Jagdeo said.

He also called out other members of the political and parliamentary opposition who he said have made vile statements following the tragic incident.

“We will overcome this and there will be all the answers in the future,” he said in response to collective haste to hold people accountable.

“Once again, I express heartfelt condolences to the families who lost their loved ones in the fire at Mahdia.

“This devastating loss has taken away the joy from so many families and I want them to know that they can count on our unconditional support now and in the future.

“It is going to be a long period before we can overcome this,” the Vice President said.

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