Former President Donald Ramotar believes that the coalition Government is afraid of the country’s crime situation, thus seeking the sanctuary of the Guyana Defence Force’s (GDF) Camp Ayanganna to host its weekly Cabinet meetings.
The Ministry of the Presidency on Tuesday defended the resort to using the Army’s Base Camp Ayanganna for the holding of Cabinet meetings in light of ongoing repairs at its Shiv Chanderpaul Drive and South Road location, saying the decision is rooted in the security concerns of the Administration.
However, the former Head of State said on Wednesday that a justification premised on “security concerns” suggests that Government is afraid to own the crime situation they have created themselves.
“They say they are going to the Army compound because of security reasons, which suggests that the Government and the whole Cabinet itself are afraid of the crime situation in the country,” Ramotar asserted.
According to Ramotar, this action by the coalition can be considered an admission that it mismanaged the country and run the economy to such a state that it has created huge social problems causing persons to “resort to crime”. He added that despite feeding the population with figures purporting to show that crime is going down, Government is now running for security.
Moreover, the former President outlined that the move to keep the meetings at the Army’s base may be considered an admission by the Administration of its failure to ensure the country’s security.
He further posited that Government had an abundance of Government facilities to choose from, but opted for the Army’s headquarters instead.
“There are many buildings they could have used; the Convention Centre has many offices, many rooms. There is no shortage of spaces, but the fact that they have decided to use the Army compound, the head office of the Army and the fact that they said it was for security reasons suggests that they are afraid to own the situation they have created themselves,” he remarked.
This decision by Government to hold the Cabinet meetings at the GDF base comes on the heels of intense criticisms against the David Granger-led Administration over perceptions of increasing militarisation of Guyana over the past year and a half it has been in office.
The political Opposition has railed against what it has called the increasing militarisation of Guyana by President Granger, a retired high-ranking military officer himself, now Executive President.
In fact, the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C), in a recent public missive, said “The Granger Administration has a penchant for placing retired and serving military officers in Government agencies and departments, and to head Commissions of Inquiry into one incident after another.”
Since the election of May 11, 2015, several GDF officers under the command of Colonel Khemraj Persaud have been seconded to work in the Defence Secretariat at the Ministry of the Presidency, as well as appointed Chairperson of numerous Commissions of Inquiries. Such persons include Brigadier Bruce Lovell, Retired Colonel Windee Algernon, Major General Joe Singh, Rear Admirals Gary Best and Larry London, and Colonel Nazrul Hussain, who was also appointed to head the Department of National Events.
A number of Army officers have also been appointed to a number of State Boards and other civilian positions.
However, the Ministry of the Presidency has since downplayed the use of former military officers, saying that persons are selected for positions based on their competency.
Moreover, a public statement issued on Tuesday by the Government’s Department of Public Information, under the hand of Director of Public Information, Imran Khan, points out that a thorough and extensive search was conducted for a suitable space to temporarily host Cabinet meetings, with the main requirements for a temporary alternative venue being privacy and confidentiality, security, document preparation and reproduction, size, cost, accessibility, parking and minimal disruption to traffic and regular business.
“After consideration of a number of options, it was found that the vast majority of these venues did not meet several or some of the most important requirements or were unavailable for the times required… (Camp Ayanganna) is being temporarily used for Cabinet meetings until repair works at the Ministry of the Presidency (including the Cabinet room) are complete,” the statement detailed.