Just hours after Former Chief-of-Staff of the Guyana Defence Force (GDF), Retired Rear Admiral Gary Best announced his endorsement of the opposition coalition, the incumbent People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPPC) warned that a plan was afoot to militarize Guyana.
Addressing an election campaign rally at Bartica, Public Works Minister Robeson Benn expressed concern about the increasing number of ex military personnel entering the political arena.
“It looks like we have a legionnaires club of old military people who want to establish a defacto militarized country again here in Guyana and we are warning people against this. We must take warning that we have to keep these people out if we want to continue on the path of development and progress,” he said. Benn noted Rear Admiral Best’s endorsement of the coalition between APNU and the Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) as the best political party to run Guyana for the foreseeable future.
Others Benn listed were opposition presidential candidate, Retired Brigadier David Granger, Retired Lt. Col Joseph Harmon and Retired Police Commissioner Winston Felix.
The PPPC had hired former Lieutenant Ronald Gajraj as its Home Affairs Minister.
President Donald Ramotar expressed concern that Guyana might be on the verge of following in the footsteps of countries like Egypt where military officers have taken up civilian office and killing persons on the streets of Cairo almost every day. “That is one thing we have to look at if this is a trend that they want to continue in our world,” he said.
Benn urged the gathering to “send Granger and Harmon into their second and final retirement” on May 11, 2015 by voting resoundingly for the PPPC. “All of those old military and policing people who have been a waste of time in our country, who don’t know about anything of the past,” said the minister. Taking a verbal swipe at Granger, a trained historian, the minister accused the Opposition Leader of feigning ignorance about Guyana’s past such as the bomb-blast death of Working People’s Alliance co-leader Dr. Walter Rodney on June 13, 1980.
The Public Works Minister, who has acted as Foreign Minister in the recent past, said Granger and his associates preferred to rewrite history and allow Guyanese to forget the past. “They want to twist and turn our history. They want to wipe clean our memory. They don’t want you to think. They want us to be like zombies in the military and paramilitary they were. They want us to be like zombies, not producing and not doing anything for the future of our children and so we warn you,” he said.
Prime Minister Samuel Hinds assured that the PPPC-led administration was not bothered by the security forces but by specific personalities, a number of them whose phones had been bugged illegally and prevented the capture of several of gunmen. “I am concerned about the people that are around…all those old military-police, GDF- It’s not that we have anything against the police. We know that security is an essential part of any society and an essential part of our society,” he said. “I am greatly concerned that there is great danger if they are to win the next elections,” he added.
The speakers assured that the PPPC-led administration has been a good steward of Guyana such as the establishment of housing schemes, improvement in the economy, and the provision of better health, education and potable water supply.