Prime Minister Patrick Manning has hit out at the murder of Guyana’s Agriculture Minister Satyadeo Sawh, describing it as “loathsome.”
Manning, the chairman of Caricom, said the killing was unprecedented in the English-speaking Caribbean and expressed confidence that Guyana’s authorites would do all in their power to bring the perpetrators to justice.
Sawh, 50, his sister Phulmattie Persaud and brother Rajpat Sawh, and security guard Curtis Robertson were gunned down at his East Coast home on Saturday. Sawh’s wife escaped unhurt.
Guyana’s information agency, on its website, said tomorrow has been declared a day of national mourning and funeral arrangements are to be announced. There have been no arrests as yet.
Expressing his “deepest condolences” to Sawh’s family as well as President Bharath Jagdeo, the government and people of Guyana, Manning regretted that crime had become a scourge in the region.
“All Caribbean Governments, including Trinidad and Tobago, are struggling to return their countries to acceptable levels of security,” Manning, who holds the portfolio of crime and security in the quasi-Caricom cabinet, stated.
Asked whether he believed the slaying was an assault on Guyana’s democracy, Manning declined comment.
He also had no comment on whether the “assassination” could potentially place all politicians in the region at risk.
The Guyana government has said the killing was an attempt to destabilise it and Commissioner of Police Winston Felix has beefed up security to all public officers in the country. Jagdeo, on Saturday night, said his government will be seeking external assistance as it moves to find Sawh’s killers.
The country’s newspapers, Stabroek News and Guyana Chronicle, both reported yesterday that the killings have shocked the population.
Jagdeo, whose statement to his citizens was published on the government website as well, vowed that the police will get every assistance that they needed.
He appealed to citizens for their help. “Let us track down those who committed this act. Anyone who has any information about it must fulfil their patriotic duty and inform the police of all that they know,” said Jagdeo who held an emergency Cabinet meeting in the aftermath of the murders.
Jagdeo said the killings were the response of those whose idea of development was carried out through the barrel of a gun. “If we allow this murder to create division, then we hand victory to the enemies of the state,” Jagdeo said. He said it was an attack on democracy in Guyana and he appealed to citizens to rally together.
And Guyana’s main opposition party, the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) reacted with shock and disbelief to the slaying of Sawh, and the others, the Guyana Chronicle reported yesterday.
In a statement, the PNCR “unreservedly condemns this dastardly act.”
“The killing of the minister, in our prevailing circumstances, poses a severe challenge to this nation in political, social and security terms,” the party said.
The party condemned violence and pledged to continue to work with stakeholders in the society, including the government, to design programmes to end the crime scourge.