PRESS RELEASE People’s National Congress Reform Congress Place, Sophia Georgetown, Guyana. May 13, 2008

Disciplining Police Officers for Refusing to shoot demonstrators is a Dangerous Development: PPP wants to Control Police

The People’s National Congress Reform condemns the unprecedented and unilateral transfer of two (2) senior Police Officers to the interior by the Jagdeo Administration, allegedly, because they refused to shoot PNCR demonstrators last Thursday (May 8, 2008) as ordered by the political Administration.

The PNCR has received reliable information that the two (2) senior Police Officers – one an Assistant Superintendent and the other an Inspector - were suddenly transferred to the hinterland areas of Port Kaituma and Kamarang, respectively, as disciplinary action for failing to carry out a political directive. This is a grave development which could have serious repercussions for the morale and discipline in the Guyana Police Force (GPF), as well as peace, order and good governance of Guyana.

The Cost of Living demonstration, last Thursday, was peaceful and without incident and there has not been a single complaint, from citizens or businessmen, about any threat to their safety and/or security, as a consequence of the behaviour of any participant in the demonstration.

It would appear, however, that the PPP Directorate wanted chaos and confusion, in order to discredit the PNCR. They, therefore, ordered the Police Officers to fire tear gas and bullets into the crowd. It is understood that the Police Officers, using their on-the-spot assessment of the situation, recognized that there was no necessity for any such action. In the circumstances, they acted as professional Officers observing the law and Constitution. The PPP plot back fired.

Instead of issuing such dangerous directives to the GPF the President should spend his time implementing a comprehensive menu of measures to give immediate relief to suffering Guyanese. It is time that the Jagdeo Administration understands that the Cost-of-Living crisis in Guyana is not a politically partisan matter, but affects every Guyanese, irrespective of race, colour, creed or occupation.

The PNCR calls on the Commissioner (ag) to publicly explain for this serious development in the GPF and to give assurance that he has not breached his Oath of Office to observe the law and Constitution. He should assure the nation that he has not become a pawn of the PPP political Directorate.

History will not judge him kindly!

It is significant that President Jagdeo has deliberately stymied the functioning of the Police Service Commission (PSC) in order to facilitate political control of the GPF. Consultations for the Chairman of the PSC, as required by Article 210 (1) (a) of the Constitution, was concluded between the President and the Leader of the Opposition since Wednesday August 22, 2007. It was agreed that Mr. Ivan Crandon, DSM should be appointed Chairman of the PSC. Regrettably, Mr. Crandon died on September 27, 2007, without assuming that post.

Consultations were again held on Friday November 30, 2007, for a Chairman to replace Mr. Crandon. At those consultations, the President and Leader of the Opposition agreed that a Chairman would be appointed, while the vacancy on the Commission to fill Mr Crandon's place would be addressed. There was serious disagreement on the nominee of the President for the post of Chairman. The President identified a member whose appointment to the Commission was already being questioned as having been in breach of Article 210 (1) (c) of the constitution. This provision states,

“four members appointed by the President upon nomination by the National Assembly after it has consulted such bodies as appear to it to represent the majority of the members of the Police Force and any other such body it deems fit;”

The PPP is determined to have political control of the Police Force and used their majority on the Appointive Committee in Parliament to identify the National Commission on Law and Order as a Body to name a representative for the PSC. The National Commission on Law and Order is a Body appointed by the Minister of Home Affairs to make recommendations on security matters and could, under no stretch of imagination be a Body that represents members of the GPF. The PPP, however, used its majority to have Mr. Dennis Morgan nomination to the PSC.

Clearly this appointment is in breach of the Constitution, yet the President, in consultations with the Leader of the Opposition on November 30, 2007, identified this representative to be appointed Chairman of the Police Service Commission.

The Leader of the Opposition, after expressing strong objections, nominated Mr. Duncan-Clarke, an experienced and respected member of the Commission, to be the Chairman. However, under the Constitution the President is only required to meaningfully consult and, unlike the appointment of Chancellor of the Judiciary, does not have to obtain the agreement of the Leader of Opposition. It is evident, that the failure of the President to appoint a Chairman of the PSC has resulted in the Commission not meeting. This obviously suits the purpose of the PPP and President Jagdeo as they are now able to manipulate, terrorize and threaten Police Officers, as was done with the recent high-handed and arbitrary transfer of the two Officers to interior locations.

The PNCR warns that this dangerous development could only have grave consequences for peace and stability of this nation.

People’s National Congress Reform
Congress Place, Sophia
Georgetown, Guyana.
May 13, 2008