By Abena Rockcliffe- Campbell
Just under a score of persons hailing from Region Three yesterday mounted a protest outside Kaieteur News in “solidarity” with the embattled Minister of State Joseph Harmon.
The lead protestor who identified herself as Kathlene Armstrong told Kaieteur News, “We are standing in solidarity with the APNU+AFC government; we stand with President David Granger, and in support of Joseph Harmon. We, as a Region, are in solidarity with what Joseph Harmon is doing.”
Armstrong said that she is APNU+AFC Regional Councilor for Region Three.
Asked if she is indeed supportive of Harmon and all his recently publicized actions, Armstrong said, “I do not know what actions you are talking about.” She said that all she knows is that she is a Harmon supporter.
Armstrong had a placard erected that read, “Nigel Hughes is anti-coalition. Get on board.” Kaieteur News asked Armstrong about her making of such a strong allegation against the Chairman of the Alliance For Change whose Party plays an important role in the coalition government.
She eventually responded, “I am telling him to come on board, can’t you see that?”
Another protestor held a placard which read, “Glenn Lall has a PPP/C motive. Coalition is it.”
Asked to explain the reason behind such a conclusion, Armstrong responded, “I am not here to talk about Glenn Lall, I am here to show support for the APNU+AFC government.”
Armstrong declined to say how she felt about the President’s decision to rescind Brain Tiwarie’s appointment which was made by Harmon.
She said, “I will not discuss that because I am not here for that. I will not be the judge of any of the actions of President Granger. I am going to stand in support with whatever President Granger does.”
Political commentators Frederick Kissoon and Mark Benschop expressed disappointment in politicians whom they feel must have been the force behind the protest demonstration.
Kissoon said that the demonstration shows the extent to which Guyana’s political culture continues to degenerate. “This paper, that I have been associated with from inception, has consistently exposed the wrongdoings of the People’s Progressive Party/ Civic government but I have never encountered a picket exercise outside the office of Kaieteur News. I would not accept, even for a fleeting moment, that the 10 to 15 persons would unwisely find themselves picketing KN acting on their own.”
Kissoon said that there must have been planning by politicians and incentives must have been given or was promised by people who occupy more than an ordinary place in the scheme of political power.
“If those persons gave approval for this picket it is an ominous sign of what is to come,” said Kissoon.
He added that the “Harmon controversy is leading some important political actors down a path that may take Guyana with it unless wiser heads, particularly President Granger introduce some rational thinking to this chaotic situation.”
Benschop said that the protest does not look well for the new administration. “It is sending the wrong message.”
He said that this sort of action is sending messages to media houses to the effect that the government will come against reporters or media house that seek to expose the truth if it is not singing praises to the government.
Benschop said, “It marks the continuation of a dangerous situation that started under the PPP regime.
“The government must allow the media to function. If any Minister is messing up it is the duty of the media to bring this to the public attention.
“You cannot have paid supporters of the government to protest and try to paint Kaieteur News as the enemy. You are endangering lives.”
Benschop called on the President to “please put a stop to this immediately, this is bullyism.”
Benschop said that “interestingly” he never saw any of those who mounted protest yesterday “risking their lives during the reign of the PPP. It was just a few of us and Kaieteur News was included in that few.”
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