The police never learn. They pretend to act with restraint when in fact their postures amount to not taking action. This ambivalence on the part of the police encourages further acts which threaten peace and public order. And this adds to the difficulty which the force is facing in demonstrating that it is a professional outfit.
A few weeks ago, there was an incident in which APNU supporters obstructed, in the presence of the police, the passage of a PPPC vehicle which was making announcements in an area which has been a stronghold of APNU.
The police should have intervened and put a stop to the obstruction, especially since a few days earlier there was an incident in Sophia in which an almost similar thing occurred. Unless the police put a stop to these incidents, there is bound to be an escalation of tensions and endangering of the peace.
Videos have surfaced on social media in which a man was seen using a stick to hit down PPPC flags from lantern posts in an area. The police have reportedly arrested the man which is good. But why have they not as yet arrested the woman who was captured in another video doing the same in another area.
The police should have been sending a strong signal that they will not be tolerating certain types of conduct during the elections campaign. Once they make that clear, it is their duty to enforce it so as to deter any such conduct in the coming weeks.
The PPPC is reporting that its meeting in Mocha was disrupted by APNU supporters who were advertising their meeting at the said time. It would be hard to convince anyone that this act by those APNU supporters was not deliberate. Instead of the police urging that this disruption cease, they advised the PPPC to discontinue their actions. Is this professional conduct on the part of the police? The victim has to suffer while the violators are allowed license?
Guyana is retrogressing when it comes to political tolerance. This will have an impact on the freeness of the elections. Opposition parties should be allowed to campaign in APNU strongholds and APNU should be allowed to campaign in PPPC strongholds. So far there have been no reports of APNU being prevented from keeping meetings in PPPC strongholds.
But when a party knows that it is losing an election, it becomes desperate and irrational, and that is when we see attempts at violence, obstruction and downright lawlessness. Last election, there was this indecent incident in which a woman, in full public view, pulled aside her undies and urinated on a PPPC flag. Now this was just theatrics on her part and was not at all illegal, but it was vulgar and crass act which should be discouraged by her political masters.
The police will only be giving themselves headaches later on, unless they take condign action now to stop these negative acts. But the police have been known to face problems in preventing violations of the law by political party supporters. They have a great difficulty in understanding what it means to be professional.
Incidentally, the PPPC Prime Ministerial candidate and former Chief of Staff of the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) said that when he left the GDF it was a professional outfit. He may have spoken too early.
There was a bizarre development last Thursday. The Guyana Defence Force was hosting its annual officers’ conference and instead of the President going to one of the bases to address the officers, the officers had to assemble at State House just to hear his address and to take some photographs.
Guyana is going down the wrong road. It has been down this road before and the silence over what was taking place then led to economic destitution and political repression.
This is all the more reason why the police have to be neutral and to take action against those who are engaged in violent actions or inciting disturbances during the campaign. But the police are not serious. They at best are exercising restraint. And Guyanese are too well aware of the consequences of such restraint.
(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this newspaper)
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