I am not surprised that the government has defied the will of the people’s representatives
Regrettably, as with most things in Guyana, it’s the poor who suffer while the powerful and the protected are staunchly defended by the government – even when there is clear evidence that those individuals are beyond salvage.
I am not surprised that the PPP government led by President Donald Ramotar has defied the will of the people’s representatives that Home Affairs Minister Clement Rohee must go. I am not surprised that Mr. Rohee did not do the decent thing and offer his resignation, thus sparing his President and party the embarrassment of an impeachment. I am not surprised, because in Guyana there is a culture in which no one takes responsibility for their actions, and where there are no consequences for wrongdoing by public officials, especially those who belong to the political class, or the protected class.
One of the arguments being used by the PPP to support the damaged and clearly inept Minister of Home Affairs is that he can only be removed by the President. What is not broadcast as loudly is the fact that in 20 years no PPP Minister has ever been removed (fired) from government, even though several were involved in scandalous actions and alleged criminal behaviour.
There is a history of failure by the PPP in government to accept responsibility for acts of policy and acts of public officials. The first reaction by the Government of Guyana is always to cover up, then to apportion blame elsewhere, and when that fails to sweep matters under the rug. There are also times when the government just pretends that incidents involving some favoured individuals never happened.
When a policy goes terribly wrong and there is a breakdown of established standard operating procedures (SOP), which result in the loss of life, injuries and the damage to property, responsibility lies on the shoulders of the person responsible for the entity charged with the formulation of that policy. When a police force continuously fails at crowd control, and shows a pattern of the use of excessive force against unarmed civilians who are engaging in legitimate dissent, then it is not just a matter of poor judgment by the commander on the ground, but instead a failure of policy.
The civilian leadership is tasked with establishment of the policy and the law; this then is executed and upheld by the uniformed branch. When the policy fails continuously, and the public loses confidence in the uniformed ranks to serve and protect them, then the problem is much bigger than a few rogue cops or a breach of SOP. The use of force and how it should be graduated is well documented, and professional men and women who examined the atrocity at Linden on July 18th instantly recognized that there was a breach of SOP.
The dress and make-up of the ranks involved, the sequence of events, the posture of the unit engaging the crowd, the ineffective use of the tear smoke, are just some of the glaring deficiencies, which point to a breakdown or total lack of training. The cumulative effect of police misconduct, shootings, massacres (Bartica, Lindo Creek, Lusignan), boat scandal, election money scandal – all under the PPP’s watch – show a pattern of a lack of strong and dedicated civilian management of the security sector.
What I find disappointing is those who continue to support not only Clement Rohee, despite his lethal failures, but also the corrupt and racist PPP government – which, while it is clearly racist, also discriminates against all poor Guyanese, regardless of race.
I refer to the diplomatic community, particularly its Western diplomats. I have lived long enough to remember their nations’ involvement in the destabilizing of Guyana’s political and economic systems under a government by far more benevolent than this current regime. Today, those diplomats’ silence and inaction speak volumes, and Guyanese should take note.
On November 28th 2011, the majority of Guyanese voters elected the combined opposition that constitutes the current parliamentary majority. They sent their representatives to Parliament to represent them. Through their elected representatives, the people of Guyana have found Clement Rohee unfit to perform the duties of Minister of Home Affairs. As such, then, the only honourable response is for him to adhere to the will of the people. To hide behind a convenient article of the Constitution that states only the President can remove a sitting Minister is tantamount to normal cowardice in the face of the enemy.
The people of Guyana and history will judge the PPP’s handling of this otherwise very manageable crisis very harshly. President Ramotar is responsible for allowing a situation to escalate that could have been handled by executive decree. It is now incumbent on him to immediately do the right thing and put an end to the crisis. It is the commonsense thing to do, but this government has never exercised commonsense.