…Opposition says Guyana slipping into authoritarianism
The Police Service Commission (PSC) says it is going to adhere to President David Granger’s directive to halt all police promotions until further notice but is calling for some clarity and justification as to the circumstances that led to making such a decision.
State Minister, Joseph Harmon, in a letter dated July 27, wrote to the PSC informing them that the President directed that there be no consideration of promotion for members of the Guyana Police Force until further notice, and the directive should be implemented immediately.
“We are the authority to promote and at our meeting on Monday (August 7) the correspondence came up for discussion…and I asked the view of the other Commissioners on the letter and they agreed to go with the directive,” Omesh Satyanand – Chairman of the PSC said.
“We are not sure about the reason for the President to give such a directive; there was no clarity and personally as the Chairman I would want to see some clarity or some justification why he would arrive at a decision like that,” Satyanand added.
He said this is the first time that the constitutional body received such a directive from a sitting President. The last time a directive was given to a constitutional body was when Minister Simona Broomes wrote to the Public Service Commission instructing them not to hire anyone to fill vacancies.
When asked about the impact of the President’s decision, Satyanand said that it is a blow for those hardworking ranks expecting to be rewarded for their services. “When you’re working for a number of years, you expect to have an increase in wages and salary, you look forward for promotion because you are working hard and these are expectations of employees and it would affect any organisation from an employee-employer perspective,” he related.
When asked whether he thinks the move is linked to the ongoing Commission of Inquiry into the effectiveness of the Guyana Police Force in investigating the alleged assassination plot against the President, Satyanand said that if it is then it should have been clearly stated on the correspondence sent to the PSC.
“My view on that is that it has nothing to do with our promotion because if you are promoting ranks, if a rank is under investigation or there is an allegation levelled against that rank, then that person should not be considered for promotion until the matter is dealt with,” he informed.
He noted that when the government receives the report of the CoI, it would have to deal with the issues arising at the departmental level and as such, the decision to halt the promotion of other ranks is an unfair one.
President Granger is accused of transgressing Article 226 section (1) of the Constitution, which states: “In the exercise of its functions under the Constitution a Commission shall not be subject to the direction or control of any other person or authority”.
Meanwhile, former Home Affairs (now Public Security) Minister Clement Rohee said that the recent directive shows that the Government has its own plans and a witch-hunting phase is being set in motion.
“We are now faced with another situation where we have directives given to constitutional bodies by the Executive when that ought not to take place under no circumstances… what we do know is that a (witchhunt) is proceeding to get rid of senior ranks within the Guyana Police Force. Major Crimes Unit is going to be disbanded, changes are being made in Criminal Investigation Department and we know that SOCU is likely to play a greater role within the Guyana Police Force and we also understand that Special Branch is going to be expanded,” Rohee posited.
“It is quite possible that other branches are going to merge with Special Branch to make it a more powerful body within the Force because the intention of the government is to use Special Branch to more effectively monitor the activities of persons of interest as well as the political parties…they are moving in the direction of authoritarianism,” he charged.
Rohee told a press conference, on Wednesday, that despite the investigation into the assassination plot against the President, a CoI was ordered and while in process the directive was given. He noted that the directive is an instruction to the PSC knowing that they are already beginning to examine ranks for promotion that is due at the end of this year. He said that those promotions are now put on hold to facilitate the President’s wishes. (Lakhram Bhagirat)