The year has ended with a brutal awakening, not just for the People’s Progressive Party but also for all those who have leases issued by the government.
Earlier this year some farmers who won their case against the government had their leases revoked. Now it is revoking of a lease to Red House based on an opinion and not a legal decision.
For those who feel that the decision to revoke the lease is a case of correcting a wrong, then they are wrong.
The APNU+AFC government needed space for an expanded presidential bureaucracy. A foray to relocate and occupy the Walter Roth Museum was rebuffed by loud protests.
An alternative had to be found to house presidential staffers. There were not many locations available. Red House became a prime alternative to house the National Trust which had been asked to leave its headquarters on Carmichael Street so as to make way for a presidential media outfit which is doing work which could have been easily done by the Department of Public Information or the Government Information Agency (GINA).
Red House was the perfect choice. It would solve the dilemma caused by the rebuffing by the Walter Roth Museum and it would at the same time kick the PPP and Jagan’s papers out of a building which was the first home occupied by the late Premier and President of Guyana during the tumultuous years leading to Guyana’ s Independence.
The PPP contributed to the present dilemma it finds itself in. It granted itself, virtually, a token rental for the lease of the Red House. It is not clear whether the company which was granted the lease had the responsibility to maintain the building during the period of the lease. If that were the case then the low lease fees may be justified.
There were negotiations on this issue before. The negotiations were about catering for other Presidents papers. The negotiations should have been about increasing the lease fees. The PPP would have consented, most likely, to that request. But the original plan was about the building being used as an archive and research center for Jagan’s papers.
Then the quest for additional office space emerged following the rebuff by the Walter Roth Museum. The PPP was asked to remove by the end of Old Year’s Day. They took the matter to the courts and a hearing is due in February.
This may explain why persons believed to be from the government wanted to take over the facility one day before the time the government gave the PPP was up. The government is afraid of being prevented, by the courts from assuming immediate possession. It is afraid that it may lose the case. It is frightened that its legal arguments may be as fragile as some of the old archival material stored in Red House which now has to be hurriedly crated for removal.
Even if the PPP says that it is not moving until the court hearing, it is the government which gave the PPP until old year’s night to remove, one of the shortest eviction notices ever, a mere two days. How can all that material be removed in such a short period?
The old bullying tactics have been resorted to. The leopard has not lost its stripes. Guyanese should beware that is how Burnham started his descent into authoritarianism.
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