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Govt has evidence of militarized opposition- Luncheon

Secretary to the Defence Board, Dr. Roger Luncheon

Secretary to the Defence Board, Dr. Roger Luncheon says he has concrete information that the opposition coalition is being militarized in the run-up to next month’s general elections in contrast to the previous polls almost four years ago.

“I don’t want to burden you with the facts but when I show you the details that we have about the involvement of retired military in the leadership, not only the rank and file, but in the leadership of APNU-AFC coalition I think you will have to agree that 2015 is a different kettle of fish than 2011,” he said.

Luncheon said so far the coalition of A Partnership for National Unity+ Alliance For Change (APNU+ AFC) has not rejected the incumbent administration’s belief that if the David Granger-led coalitions wins the May 11, 2015 polls the integrity of the security forces would be compromised. “No one has repudiated that because they know what I know that I got the information, they know that,” he said.

The Head of the Presidential Secretariat dismissed suggestions that the current leadership of the GDF, under the command of his “personal friend” Brigadier Mark Phillips of consorting with the opposition.

In addition to Retired Brigadier Granger,  other ex top military and police officers include Rear Admiral Gary Best, Police Commissioner Winston Felix, Brigadier Edward Collins and Lt.Col. Joseph Harmon.

Former President Bharrat Jagdeo is worried that if the opposition coalition wins, security personnel would commit atrocities on civilians and they would have nowhere to seek redress.

A senior government official fears that an APNU+AFC led administration that includes retired senior military personnel would see the GDF having to swear political allegiance to the party in office. That, the official warned, would again see an exodus of military personnel from the defence force.

Luncheon said his analysis was based on the facts such as soldiers having been involved in the movement and storage of ballot boxes during general elections under the Forbes Burnham-led People’s National Congress (PNC) administration in the 1970s and 1980s. “Certainly if the past is to be given some consideration on what the future holds it would allow any amount of prophesying based on history,” he said.

On the question of the PPPC-led administration having recruited former Chiefs-of-Staff , Retired Major General Joseph Singh and Retired Major General Michael Atherly, Luncheon said they were hired by the government for their expertise and not by a political party. “These people got knowledge that government could use,” he said.