President Granger, Ministers hold Cabinet deliberations at Army base
– security concerns in light of MoTP’s repairs cited
The Cabinet Council of Ministers this past week relocated the Executive’s highest decision-making forum to the Officers Mess of the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) Headquarters, Camp Ayanganna, Georgetown.
Cabinet is chaired by Head of State David Granger, a former GDF Brigadier who has come in for intense criticism over the past year and a half for his continuous resort to the use of retired military officers to head several Commissions of Inquiry, among other key positions in his administration.
The political Opposition has railed against what it has called the increasing militarisation of Guyana by Granger, a retired high-ranking military officer, now Executive President.
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 (MoTP).
The PPP/C’s concerns were sounded against the background of the appointments as Chairperson of the numerous Commissions of Inquiry of retired GDF officers, such as Brigadier Bruce Lovell, Retired Colonel Windee Algernon, Major General Joe Singh, Rear Admiral Gary Best and Larry London,
Colonel Nazrul Hussain 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.
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.
The Administration has also defended the resort to Base Camp Ayanganna for the holding of Cabinet meetings in light of ongoing repairs at the Ministry of the Presidency.
According to a public missive issued on Tuesday by the Government’s Department of Public Information, under the hand of Director of Public Information, Imran Khan, the decision to use Camp Ayanganna’s facilities is rooted in the security concerns of the Administration.
It was pointed out that the Ministry of the Presidency was currently undertaking urgent repair works in some sections of the main building of the complex, which has resulted in some rooms, including Cabinet Room, being temporarily unavailable for use.
Defending the use of GDF’s Base Camp Ayanganna, Khan said 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.
According to Khan, in the Administration’s public announcement, “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.”
The only venue which met the requirements was the Officers Mess at Camp Ayanganna and “this venue is being temporarily used for Cabinet meetings until repair works at the Ministry of the Presidency are complete”.