Oct 12, 2012 News
– insists Rohee’s removal a must
– airlines cancel flights
Opposition parties in the National Assembly last evening blasted the governing People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) over what has been described as insensitive statements that sparked protests on the East Bank Demerara, leaving thousands of commuters stranded.
Leader of the Opposition, Brigadier (ret.) David Granger, said it had become even more critical for government to immediately remove Minister of Home Affairs, Clement Rohee, and implement widespread reforms in the security sector.
On Wednesday, the Alliance For Change, which has seven seats in Parliament, gave government up to midnight that same day to remove Rohee, making it clear that the party would not recognize him in that role subsequently.
However, government in defiance, yesterday said that it stands behind the security minister.
According to Head of the Presidential Secretariat Dr. Roger Luncheon yesterday, the government remains resolute on the Minister, despite what the opposition wants.
“I could say this, I look forward to the fight. I don’t believe in essence that the opposition has a leg to stand on but I quite concede that the rhetoric over time has indeed forced them into an irretrievable position. As Muhammad Ali said… let’s get ready to rumble.”
It was the latter statement that has been blamed for the protests that started during the peak hours of traffic yesterday afternoon at Agricola, East Bank Demerara.
According to Granger, Luncheon’s comments clearly betray the mindset of the ruling PPP/C.
“They have a situation in which the National Assembly at the end of July passed a majority resolution for the removal of Rohee. This was after years of evaluation of the performance of security sector and the failure to introduce critical reforms.”
Some of the reforms include a national drug strategy master plan. Despite reports from the US and the British on the state of trafficking in persons and human rights violations, among other issues, Guyana has done nothing. And it is all pointing to a breakdown of security in Guyana, the Opposition Leader said.
“I am not surprised but very, very astonished that they could be so insensitive.”
According to Granger, a former army chief, APNU is working on a report on the number of persons killed by the police in the last 20 years.
“For the last 17 years alone, 268 persons have been killed by the police alone. Families are rightfully upset. To use words like …ready to rumble… any government that has the people at heart would not be so insensitive as to make those statements. Rohee, as the Minister of Home Affairs, is at the heart of the security problems.”
According to Granger, government does not have much option except to immediately remove Rohee and start implementing widespread changes that people are demanding.
Hundreds of workers were left stuck from Houston to Bagotstown, East Bank Demerara, with many vehicles turning back.
Commuters bound for the West Bank Demerara and using the bridge were forced to use speedboats, which were allowed to work beyond the 18:00 hrs deadline.
There were reports of several persons being robbed as they took shortcuts at Eccles, by the National Milling Company. Scores were affected by tear smoke.
Last evening, as movement along the East Bank Public Road remained significantly affected, Caribbean Airlines cancelled a number of flights.
School children were reportedly stuck in minibuses and scores were seen walking from Agricola to the park in the city.
Government has already, in light of the stand-off between armed security forces and demonstrators, cancelled a number of events set for today.
Two recent shootings that left two teens dead, including one from Agricola, had drawn widespread anger, especially against government and the security forces.
Meanwhile, the AFC deemed Luncheon’s statements as reckless. “These statements were provocative and insensitive. The AFC condemns the blocking of the public roadway and the subsequent robbery of innocent citizens on their way home and appeals for calm at this difficult time.”
According to the party, the “belligerent tone” used by the Cabinet Secretary coupled with the provocative singing of “we shall not be moved” and subsequent laughter were not only callous but perhaps calculated to engineer the exact result witnessed last evening.
“The tragic deaths of three Lindeners in July, followed by the execution of Shaquille Grant in Agricola, the mysterious disappearance of the two policeman involved in the shooting, and the shooting to death of an innocent bystander all under the watch of Minister Rohee are testament to the continued failure of the Minister to create a safe environment and to provide security for all citizens of Guyana.”
“The fact that the Government of Guyana considers this Minister’s performance the best available in the cabinet is testimony to the tragic and abysmal failure to provide effective leadership and responsible stewardship of the affairs of the state.”
Parliament of Guyana, the highest decision-making forum in the land, has already expressed its total lack of confidence in the Minister, AFC said.
“The Government’s response that “we shall not be moved” displayed not only a complete disregard for the wishes of the elected majority but was an act of defiance and an invitation for conflict rather than calm reflection.”
The AFC said it finds it despicable that the Government has started its manipulation on airwaves and TV that AFC’s Chairman, Mr. Nigel Hughes, caused this crisis, when undoubtedly it was the provocation of Luncheon “taunting aggrieved mothers in mourning. The AFC urges all citizens to remain calm and not be provoked.”
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