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Ramotar cautions soldiers against political propaganda; urges stern action during elections period

President Donald Ramotar with GDF officers after the opening of their 2015 Conference.

Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, President Donald Ramotar on Thursday called on the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) to take decisive action to preserve security in the upcoming general and regional elections and he warned against soldiers being used for political propaganda.

Addressing the opening of the 2015 Annual Officers’ Conference at the GDF’s Headquarters, Camp Ayanganna, he urged participants to be on alert to deal with forces of reaction and fragmentation.

“Any attempt to create a feeling of insecurity and fear among citizens or in any segment of our population based on rumours, subjective gutter politics or worse must be publicly frowned upon and action taken by the security forces to arrest any such tendency by the application of the full weight of the law and the Constitution,” he said.

The President stressed that the GDF must remain professional and non-partisan although officers and ranks are allowed to vote in the elections.  Saying that soldiers are not allowed to participate in “acts of political propaganda or militancy,” he urged the GDF to act in the best interest of Guyanese.  Ramotar appealed to the soldiers to abide by their oaths and respect the constitution and the results of the general and regional elections scheduled for May 11, 2015.

“You must inspire confidence in citizens and demonstrate to Guyanese and the world that, while as individuals in uniform you exercise your democratic right to vote, as members of the GDF as an institution you will carry out your professional responsibility in accordance with the constitution and respect the legitimate outcome of the electoral process,” he said.

The Guyana government has previously expressed concern about ex military officers becoming active politicians as is the case with A Partnership for National Unity (APNU). That parliamentary coalition, which is headed by Retired Brigadier, David Granger,  includes Retired Lt.Col. Joseph Harmon and other former officers. 

APNU, whose major partner is the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR), draws the bulk of its support from among Afro Guyanese who also make up the police, army, prisons and fire service. The incumbent People’s Progressive Party Civic’s (PPPC) support base is made up mostly of Indo-Guyanese.