President Donald Ramotar says the security forces have been long instructed to go after 155 guns that were transferred from the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) to functionaries of the People’s National Congress (PNC)-led administration 35 years ago.
““This is one of the important functions of the security forces to get the weapons back…This is a standing order to get the weapons back and bring it back… from whatever time, you have to get them back,” the Commander-in-Chief told a news conference at his office.
At the same time, the Guyanese leader publicly appealed to PNC leader, David Granger to assist in getting the weapons back in the GDF’s armoury because that opposition politician was Army Commander at that time the firearms of various caliber were transferred to W. Skeete and R. Corbin of the Ministry of National Development and Office of the Prime Minister.
Asked what steps have been taken to have the weapons returned since the public revelation by Lt. Col. Sydney James at the Walter Rodney Commission of Inquiry, the President said that since that the Defence Board has not met since last month’s disclosure. “Since the revelation, the Defence Board hasn’t met but I can say this- that when those weapons were given to the PNC, the present leader of the PNC was the Commander of the army at the time and now that he is the leader of the PNC, I will expect that he will make some genuine efforts to return the weapons that were given to the PNC,” said the President.
But based on Lt. Col. James’ account, the findings of the investigation have been available since August, 2008. That probe had been prompted by the seizure of two handguns from two criminals during a shootout at Mahaicony. Checks later revealed that those weapons were the property of the GDF and had been part of the weapons that had been transferred to Skeete and Corbin.
The army officer has told the Inquiry into the June 13, 1980 death of Rodney that his investigation concerning the whereabouts of the weapons did not extend beyond the army.
While the President stressed that “we have been making a lot of efforts to get the weapons back,” he sought to again link the PNC to a criminal enterprise. He recalled that the five prisoners, who had broken out of the Georgetown Prison in February 2002, were armed but did not get them from an armoury.
He restated that the criminal gangs that had operated in Buxton from 2002 to 2006 had received political support.
The President said the security forces were mandated to go after all illegal firearms including the AK-47 rifles that had been stolen from an armoury at the GDF’s Camp Ayanganna Headquarters. At least 31 of those weapons had been stolen and several recovered from the hands of criminals.
The Home Affairs Minister, Clement Rohee has said that among the firearms issued to these two “comrades” were: One hundred (100) M10 Browning Pistols; fifteen (15) M70 rifles; five (5) M72 Light Machine Guns; sixteen (16) Smith and Wesson Pistols; four (4) HK11 Light Machine Guns; fourteen (14) G3 Rifles; four (4) General Purpose Machine Guns; forty (40) Beretta Sub-Machine Guns; thirty-three (33) SLR Rifles; six (6) .22 Pistols; six (6).30 Carbon Pistols; six (6) .33 Rifles and one hundred and seventy-nine (179) 9MM rounds were issued.
Rohee has warned that those weapons on the streets of Guyana could be used for political purposes. “In the interest of public safety and security I demand that the missing weapons be returned to the GDF, lest they be used for political objectives,” he said.