Guyana President suing newspaper
GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Thursday July 15, 2010 – Guyana’s President Bharrat Jagdeo is taking a local newspaper, its publisher, its editor and a columnist to court, seeking more than GUY$10 million (US$48,732) in damages for an article that he says suggests he’s racist.
He’s alleging that the article written by columnist Freddie Kissoon and published in the Kaieteur News on June 28th was libelous.
Kaieteur News, Kissoon, Editor Adam Harris, and publisher National Media and Publishing Company Ltd, have all been named defendants in the suit. Acting Chief Justice Ian Chang has granted an injunction preventing them from repeating the alleged libel or any other libel against the President.
Jagdeo contended in an affidavit filed to obtain the injunction that the article headlined ‘King Kong sent his goons to disrupt the conference’ contained libel that has caused him and the entire Government of Guyana “great public embarrassment, held us up to odium and ridicule, both nationally and internationally”.
The President said he understood the article to mean that he, and by extension the State and Government of Guyana, discriminate against Afro-Guyanese on the basis of their race and ethnicity.
Among other things, President Jagdeo accuses Kissoon of suggesting that he, the State and Government routinely contravene Article 149 of the Constitution which guarantees to all citizens of this country protection from racial discrimination as a fundamental right and freedom; and that force, intimidation and other unlawful methods are sued to silence critics.
“For the respondents/defendants to publish the aforesaid the allegations is not only libelous but is also malicious, irresponsible and inflammatory, calculated and designed to excite racial hostilities amongst the people of Guyana and to cause a racial rift between the people of Guyana and their democratically elected Government,” the affidavit stated.
An August 5th date has been set for the matter to be heard by Justice Chang.