The Opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP) said it is “appalled at government’s inability to recognise its failure to match its words with its deeds”.
Addressing its weekly news conference this morning at the party’s Freedom House headquarters in Georgetown, PPP General Secretary Clement Rohee said the operative trait of the APNU+AFC coalition administration seems to be “deception”.
Its crime and public safety and security policy is a case in point, Rohee declared.
In its 2015 elections manifesto the APNU+AFC formulated a 27 point Action Plan “to address the breakdown of law and order.” Rohee said while most of these have not been implemented, the PNC has ignored many of the actions contemplated since they are a rehash from the AFC’s 2011 “Action Plan for Guyana”.
“Practice being the criterion of truth, it is clear that the Granger administration’s public security plan is a total disaster. Whatever the security experts at the Ministry of Presidency have coughed up to fight crime has not worked,” he declared.
Rohee recalled that soon after the coalition assumed office, Guyanese were told that the crime situation will be brought under control “because there exists in government a number of security experts who have been in the business for years and who have accumulated much experience in crime fighting”.
At the same time, Rohee said the narrative to the effect that: “the lethal use of illegal firearms, gang related assaults, and narcotics trafficking has pushed up the rate of serious crimes and that there are about two armed robberies on an average everyday and an average of about three murders per week”, ceased as if by some magical formula this situation changed with the advent of the APNU+AFC to office.
A National Security Committee was established to replace the Central Intelligence Committee. Rohee said this National Security Committee as had been publicly admitted, gives general orders and direction to the police and not the Minister of Public Security.
The National Security Committee intrudes into the operational aspects of the Guyana Police Force much to the annoyance of the top echelon of the Force. Public Security Minister Khemraj Ramjattan is on public record stating that: “I have already spoken with the Police hierarchy on how to fight crime”.
A Presidential Advisor on National Security, former Army Chief of Staff Edward Collins was appointed. Rohee said Collins was to prepare a report and submit recommendations to President Granger since August last year. “The public is yet to hear whether this has happened,” the PPP official posited.
“Guyanese were informed that a five-point anti-crime strategy was being crafted. Subsequently, the plan began shuttling between the Ministry of the Presidency, the Ministry of Public Security, the Guyana Police Force and the Guyana Defense Force. Guyanese were informed that the plan was to be made public and laid in the National Assembly. The plan never saw the light of day,” Rohee stated.
And as if to add insult to injury, he said Guyanese were informed that the five-point anti-crime strategy was subsumed in “Operation Dragnet”, “a massive country-wide anti-crime and counter-terrorism operations”.
According to government: “All statutory security operations will be integrated into the wider security arrangement known as Operation Dragnet which is to address crime and border security” but “Operation Dragnet” was doomed to fail mainly due to government’s interference in law enforcement operations.
Rohee said this was manifested in the botched surveillance operation involving SOCU and an army operative resulting in the death of the army operative and his wife, (which the public has heard nothing about since).
“Then there was the Prison riots which brought the Guyana Prison Service under public scrutiny and later, with CANU being investigated for allegedly being in bed with a drug lord. Further, with the senior management of the Guyana Police Force under intense criticism from various quarters for its less than stellar performance under a failed and discredited Minister of Public Security; all of these cumulatively resulted in ‘Operation Dragnet’ being ineffective and an abysmal failure primarily due to the pig-headedness of the APNU+AFC coalition administration,” Rohee told reporters.
He said neither the government nor the Guyana Police Force will admit that the crime situation is out of control nor that they are losing the war on crime. The same, he said, applies to the Minister of Public Security whose portfolio responsibilities are now shared with the Ministry of the Presidency and is virtually in tatters despite his efforts to shore up its sagging image.
Rohee also blasted Ramjattan’s excuse that he is “busy with the Jubilee celebration preparations”, saying this is tantamount to telling Berbicians as he is wont to do, to “haul their ass”.
“He remembers too well the call in February this year by Berbicians for his resignation when there was a dramatic upsurge in violent murders and serious crimes in Region 6. Today, three months after, Berbicians are up in arms once again and Ramjatan, who once described himself to Berbicians as a ‘bad man’, refuses to do what Granger has directed namely – ‘I would like to see in the weeks and months to come that the Community Policing Group system would be transformed into one in which the Police Commanders and citizens can sit down and decide how these Communities are protected’.”
Rohee said it is clear at least to Berbicians that “bad man” Ramjattan’s solution to tackle crime in Berbice has failed. In August last year, Ramjattan publicly announced that he dispatched a SWAT team, along with about forty ranks from the Guyana Defense Force and the Guyana Police Force, to deal with the crime situation in Berbice.
Rohee said as far as Berbicians are concerned this has been totally ineffective. “To attack Berbicians calling them ‘ungrateful’ will only infuriate Berbicians more…,” he asserted.
Rohee, who was also a former Home Affairs Minister on the PPP/C administration, said the coalition APNU/AFC government lacks the courage and political will to admit its mistakes and that it has changed course on its electoral promises and shaky initiatives earlier announced.
“Instead, it prefers to keep flip-flopping in an effort to prove it can govern,” Rohee declared.