‘Caretaker Gov’t using COVID-19 to suppress opposing views’ – Manickchand

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Former PPP/C Parliamentarian and Attorney-at-Law, Priya Manickchand, along with Neil Kumar, at Court today (Priya Manickchand Facebook photo)

Former Peoples Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Parliamentarian and Attorney-at-Law, Priya Manickchand, has said that the charges instituted against the two pro-democracy activists earlier today (Thursday), signals the “beginning of an entrenchment of dictatorial behaviour” by the caretaker APNU/AFC Government.

Following the appearance of the duo – Neil Kumar and Raphael Boodhoo – at the Georgetown Magistrates Courts earlier today, Manickchand told the media that the David Granger-led administration is using the COVID-19 pandemic to suppress those who dare to oppose them.

“What happened is the world is experiencing a health crisis, a pandemic in the form of COVID-19 and the Guyana caretaker Government is attempting to use a crisis, a hardship, something they should be protecting us from, to further entrench themselves in office in defiance of the will of the people.

“Mr Granger himself is using COVID-19 as an excuse to keep the Carter Center out from continuing the observation of the tabulation of results,” Manickchand said.

The former Education Minister noted that Kumar was part of a group that was exercising its constitutional right to peaceful protests; and all the COVID-19 guidelines were being adhered to; while Boodhoo was not even part of the picketing exercise; rather he was just in the vicinity.

However, the Police are contending that the COVID-19 guidelines outlaws such picketing exercises.

The Attorney highlighted that just last week there were pro-government supporters outside of the Arthur Chung Convention Centre (ACCC); the venue of the recount, and yet the Police did not use that opportunity to charge any of them.

Manickchand related that she is of the view that the Government is attempting to intimidate persons who question its actions and called on Guyanese to speak up against this behaviour.

On May 16, scores of protesters demonstrated in front of the Foreign Affairs Ministry, calling on the Coalition Government to allow the Carter Center to return to observe the national recount.

Three of the protesters were arrested by ranks of the GPF, who claimed that the protesters breached the Public Health Ordinance in relation to COVID-19.

They were subsequently released on $20,000 station bail each.

PPP/C General Secretary, Bharrat Jagdeo, during a virtual press conference on Saturday, had contended that the protesters were adhering to all the safety protocols, such as wearing masks and practising social distancing.