by Zena Henry
Following the ‘carbon powder in rice’ incident which caused quite a stir in the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) days ago, the nation’s first line of defence is now satisfied that there was no deliberate attempt to bring harm to ranks of the army.
This is according to the Force’s Communication Officer, Acting Lt. Col Lorraine Foster who told reporters on Thursday April 30 that the military is satisfied that the incident was not intentional. The Officer said that the army, along with police ranks, visited the Essequibo- based rice mill and from the investigation conducted, “we don’t think there was a deliberate attempt to cause harm to any of the members of the Guyana Defence Force.”
She said that examination of other bags of rice proved empty, while there was nothing more suspicious in other food items.
Foster said that was the first time something like that had happened that she was aware of.
As it relates to the ranks, she said the army has spread the information to their members and things have been going back to normal.”We have disseminated the information to our ranks and they seem comfortable. Their eating… they seem comfortable.”
This sigh of relief comes days after the Army’s kitchen staff discovered a brown paper bag with carbon powder inside a bag of rice; part of a larger consignment.
The Force had noted that the staff unintentionally ripped the paper bag open while dipping out the staple.
However, what made this incident significant is that it occurred at a time when the Force was being used as a punching bag in this election period.
Former President Bharrat Jagdeo had claimed that the army was used to rig elections and caused harm to citizens under the People’s National Congress and would do the same under the contending A Partnership for National Unity+ Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) Coalition.
While Chief of Staff Brigadier Mark Phillips reminded that it is the President; Commander-in Chief that controls the army, and the force adheres to the laws of the land, the former president still warned his supporters of militarization and told them to vote against the opposition to prevent this from happening.