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Govt engaged in “executive lawlessness” over Red House possession – Ralph Ramkarran

A Board member of the Cheddi Jagan Research Centre (CJRC) has accused government of engaging in “executive lawlessness” by failing to obtain a Court Order  to expel the centre from Red House, a move that harks back to the 1970s and 1980s.

“The attempted unlawful seizure of Red House, unlawful restriction of the movement of the occupants and the unlawful sequestration of its property, bring back sad memories of times past when the rule of law in Guyana was being severely undermined as a result of political oppression and authoritarian rule,” Senior Counsel, Ralph Ramkarran said in his latest Conversation Tree column.

Police presence outside Red House on New Year’s Day, 2017.

Meanwhile, police on Sunday- New Years Day-continued their round-the-clock presence outside Red House, High Street, Kingston, Georgetown. “The police have not been hostile at all; they are protecting the peace,” said CJRC Board Member, Indra Chandrapal.

If the worst comes to the worst and the High Court rules that the CJRC must vacate Red House, Chandrapal said most of the works of late PPP Founder-Leader and President, Dr. Cheddi Jagan have been removed. Jagan lived at Red House from 1961 to 1964 while he was Premier of then British Guiana.

 

 

Challenging the cancellation of the lease of Red House to CJRC, Ramkarran said not even the President has a legal right to evict the occupants and seize possession of Red House. “The attempt to eject the occupants of Red House is a straight case of the height of executive lawlessness. No Government official has the power to dictate the expulsion of occupants of State or any other property. If the Government requires possession, it must obtain an order of the Court. That is the rule of law. It applies to the President, the Government and the citizen,”  said the former House Speaker and long-serving member of the People’s Progressive Party (PPP).

Ramkarran left the PPP about 10 years ago after apparent dissatisfaction about the way that political party had been handling concerns about alleged corruptions.

He said it is the height of lawlessness for government to send its staffers to eject the occupants and seize possession, a situation that has caused him to hope “that this event is not a foreboding of what will happen in 2017.”

The People’s National Congress (PNC), while in government, had been repeatedly accused of ruling Guyana with an iron fist and putting down dissent.

Ministry of the Presidency workers fetching away the Cheddi Jagan Research Centre's sign after pulling it down from the front of the building.

Ministry of the Presidency workers fetching away the Cheddi Jagan Research Centre’s sign after pulling it down from the front of the building.

Controversy erupted over Red House after President David Granger announced the revocation of the lease on December 30 and gave CJRC one day to vacate the premises and make way for the National Trust to move in. Granger’s decision was based on advice he received from Attorney General, Basil Williams that the 99-year lease at GYD$1,000 per month had been improperly granted on March 30, 2012 without the approval of either the President of the Day or the National Trust.

The CJRC has since taken the matter to court and has secured an agreement that none of the CJRC’s properties at Red House until the matter returns to court in February.

While the matter was still pending before Chief Justice, Yonette Cummings- Edwards on December 30, 2016, Ministry of the Presidency workers descended on Red House where they removed the padlock and tore down the Cheddi Jagan Research Institute sign.

“The CJRC had occupied the premises for about fifteen years and had accumulated a vast amount of material. Even trespassers are given longer periods to vacate premises by courts. In law, the period given must be reasonable. 48 hours could not be reasonable under any circumstances,” said Ramkarran.

The Senior Counsel appeared to support Nandlall’s reported challenge to the Attorney General’s contention that government had already revoked the lease and had taken possession of the property. “I know of my own knowledge that the claim that Government was in possession of Red House was palpably false. I spoke to staff of the CJRC by telephone from the CJRC at about 4 pm and they were in the Red House carrying out their normal activities,” said Ramkarran.

The CJRC Board member theorised that possibly because of the uncanny connection, that in order to create conditions on the ground, as reported by the Attorney General in court, that the premises were invaded by persons wearing shirts with the insignias ‘MOTP,’ assumed to be ‘Ministry of the Presidency.’

Subsequently, there was vigil on December 30, 2016 by PPP supporters that sparked off a counter-vigil by PNC members including Minister of Social Protection, Volda Lawrence.

President Granger has long called for the establishment of a research centre on all of Guyana’s Presidents instead of only one. However, the PPP has argued that Dr. Jagan, who died in office in 1997, deserves special recognition because he was the architect of Guyana’s struggle for political independence from Britain.

  • Kassem_B

    ‘However, the PPP has argued that Dr. Jagan, who died in office in 1997, deserves special recognition because he was the architect of Guyana’s struggle for political independence from Britain.’
    Fully agree
    Absolutely so

  • Do Suh nah like suh!…..Who fuss start de “executive lawlessness “?
    You fellows are devoid of moral integrity and standing in this matter.

  • Jinnah Rahman

    Errors of Judgment – Ralph Ramkarran is correct in stating that the measures used to evict the occupants and the material within the Building were heavy-handed and totally unnecessary.
    We all need to abide by the laws of Guyana to the “letter”. Mr Granger needed expert legal and professional advice. In this case – the advice was misplaced. It had more of last minute “jerk reaction”, rather than a well-thought plan. It looks like the old political sparing matches.
    I was waiting for Mr. Ramkarran’s response to this matter – since he is a. Member of the Board of the Centre and ought to be part of his former party decision to take over the Building for the purpose of housing -mainly- the PPP records, not only Dr Jagan’s lifelong writings, artifacts and other cherished belongings. Ralph Ramkarran must equally condemn the way in which the building was acquired by the PPP regime and turned into the Cheddi Jagan Research Centre.
    Mr Ramkarran needs to state also that the building was listed as a heritage site and would have to come under the control of the management and control of the National Trust and the provisions within the Laws of Guyana – Cap: 20:03. That Act provides for the protection of all properties listed as heritage buildings.
    Any transactions had to involve the National Trust and the designated minister or the President.
    Two wrongs do not make a right – as the old saying goes. The fact is the PPP had committed countless unlawful acts against the State and the people of Guyana – over its 2 decades. Rule that this action was part of the habit or norm. But now All the wrongs must be rectified – not compounded – the sooner the better.

    • Col123

      I have to admit… you write worse crap than I do…with no entertainment value ….and you go both ways…on the issues…different days…

      • Parbudin Mackanlall

        What is wrong with the substance of what Jinnah has written? You cuss down without logic or intelligence whenever the PPP receives a solid body blow from an Indo like yourself (lol). I understand the man’s message to be that the occupancy of the building for housing Jagan’s documents and memorabilia was illegal but that a crude eviction was not the way to bring it to a close. A properly planned tactical approach with proper legal guidance would have been better. Why did you not respond to this?The only way you could have gone to the US Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth was if you were part of the team of charwomen there.because you certainly have the debating skills of a charwoman. If you were ever a military man I don’t believe that you ever had even NCO status let alone that of colonel. LIAR!!!

        • Col123

          You need couple more of those monikers in representing and supporting your comments…there is no treatment for the multiple personalities you exhibit…

    • guest

      how many state land burnham had

      • Emile_Mervin

        If you know of any State land Burnham possessed at time of demise then identify it. Burnham had his faults, but he never sold or gave away State assets, finances or resources to any best friend.

    • Surujpaul Rampersaud

      Where was the PNC when the PPP acquired this building. Was it done so covertly that no one knew. This matter should have engaged the attention of the court from the inception. One expects that any worthy opposition will use the courts to promote the rule of law. It is a way of making the nation aware of national issue. The PPP is within its right to let the court decide and is obligated to accept the rule handed down by the court.

  • Col123

    Ralphie sound so neutered… or mutilated genderly!!!…Where is the political oppression?.. too much bush rum?…..we need the voice from the dude who carried Cheddie’s bags… my friend Naggie..still partying and hauling his ass in for the new year!

  • Emile_Mervin

    When I read of Ralph Ramkarran’s role in the leasing of Red House to the PPP, I am not surprised at his focus on the manner in which the Coalition ill-advisedly went about trying to evict the PPP from the building.

    Let’s not kid ourselves into thinking this lease was to some management committee overseeing the center; this is a bare-faced take over of Red House by the PPP for the PPP.

    And the fact that Ralph was instrumental is unbelievable! Apart from the acquisition, which is fraught with conflict of interest concerns, how can Ralph ever justify the PPP hiring its cronies to work at the center while being paid by the State?

    This is theft, Ralph! This is larceny! Every single executive committee member who signed off on this theft of state funds must be held accountable and responsible. And every person who collected a government salary while working at the center must repay the State every freaking dollar.

    Ralph Ramkarran, you are one of THEM despite the impression you gave of the Jagdeo regime was corrupt. Damnnnn!!!

    • Col123

      EM..despite the PPP shenanigans in acquiring this building, Ralphie was kind with those comments… in the eyes of those with clear political conscience , they will see it as a Granger fumble…it gave the PPP a chronic ulcer from which they will pull at the scabs…anytime….makes one wonder about our issues with Venezuela… will Granger be easily coaxed by foreigners into a fray with their military?…

      • Emile_Mervin

        The Granger fumble was not related to the eviction initiative; it was related to the removal of signs and efforts to physically restrict access.

        My point, though, is that Ralphie cannot extricate himself from this development, which has criminal overtones with staff of the CJRC being on the government payroll, even though the CJRC was deemed a private company.

  • long_legs

    i was bracing myself to see how poor ralphie would have wiggled out from having his name splattered all over the media showing him to be part and parcel of an entity set-up in the name of cheddi but whose intention was to fleece the guyanese people of this important building which is listed as a heritage site and is with the national trust. i knew he would have made a mess of it because, he would have had to be doubly clever as ten houdinis, which clearly he ain’t.

    here he is now trying to insult the guyanese public by claiming that the government / president gave him and the rest of hijackers 24 hours to vacate the premises; a big bold faced lie! the real fact-of-the-matter is; the government has engaged this bogus entity called the cjrc inc. for nearly an entire year and truly speaking, time was up.

    the ppp took possession of the red house from the guyanese people by “executive lawlessness” and was it not for the morally and ethically bankrupt ppp government been shown the door by the guyanese people on 11th may 2015, this act – which is the real true act of executive lawlessness – would not have come to light.

    ralphie, you live in a parallel reality and that is why you believe that a president taking back possession of a property stolen from the nation and handing it back to the people it actually belongs to is “executive lawlessness“.

    ©™

  • Kassem_B

    You do your own thing and please respect mine

  • Surujpaul Rampersaud

    Tit for tit has no place in the rule of law. The Granger administration has not been doing much to break the legacy of authoritarian rule that existed in the seventies and eighties. Instead it seems to reinforcing it. Basil Williams is not the right person for AG and may be misinforming the president. President has to be careful on the advice of his AG.

  • rs dasai

    RL SG
    Are you accusing the then Opposition (PNC) of being ToothLess? Watch your words.

  • Col123

    Some self reflection there?….I see !.. you don’t need my approval…

  • Kassem_B

    Please read the statement above that I subscribe to.
    The other issue you raise is for the Courts to decide.
    I am not a lawyer and do not know what understanding/contracts exist/valid, but I know for certain whose leadership and sweat that enable all of us today to have the right to vote at general elections, to have the right to blog as we are doing now.
    This is not the time and forum to determine what Ralph should and should not have done.
    Hope you understand the difference

  • Col123

    It is a little more complex fact to the issue of who owns or pays for what in regards libraries/museums in thew US…Check the Presidential Libraries Act of 1955…and please …make a better life with your youthful age…

  • Surujpaul Rampersaud

    Mr Long leg, it is people like you , blind followers without a sense of reasoning who got Guyana at the stage it is in. If you have forgotten the days when elections were rigged and power was taken by fraud, I have not. I remember them like the breakfast I am blessed to have. I am not affiliated to a political party buy I will never forgive the PNC for what it did to Guyana.