Last Updated on Monday, 18 July 2016, 17:01 by Denis Chabrol
The opposition People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPPC) on Monday denounced what it said was the increasing militarization of Guyana by the administration of President David Granger, a retired high-ranking military officer.
“The Granger administration has a penchant for placing retired and serving military officers in government agencies and departments and to head Commissions of Inquiry into one incident after another,” the PPP said in a statement.
Since being elected to office on May 11, 2015, several GDF officers under the command of Colonel Khemraj Persaud have been seconded to work in the Defence Secretariat at the Ministry of the Presidency and they have been instructed to continue wearing their uniforms. The President is the Minister of Defence.
The PPP’s concerns also come against the background of the heading of two Commissions of Inquiry by two retired GDF officers- Retired Brigadier Bruce Lovell for the Barry Dataram/Customs Anti-Narcotics Unit (CANU) probe- and last week Retired Colonel Windee Algernon for the investigation into the fire at the Children’s Drop-in Centre that claimed the lives of two young brothers.
The Ministry of the Presidency has also announced that Colonel Nazrul Hussain would head the Department of National Events, after a series of bungled arrangements for Guyana’s 50th Independence Anniversary.
A number of army officers have been also appointed to a number of State Boards and other civilian positions.
The PPP observed that the practice by the Guyana government of appointing current and former military officers recently attracted the attention of a letter writer who queried whether “being an officer or having once been an officer in the Guyana Defense Force offer a distinct advantage over the ordinary mortal of this country or is being an officer or having been an officer now is a prerequisite for certain State appointments?”
The opposition party reasoned that the employment of current and former military officers in civilian roles pointed to a lack of confidence in civilians and the sidelining of Alliance For Change (AFC) members from certain appointments.
“Effectively, what the Granger pro-militaristic administration has done by virtue of this practice is to demonstrate its distrust for civilians albeit qualified to perform such functions in contradistinction to military personnel.
Secondly, by proceeding in that direction the APNU has outfoxed the AFC by placing its military confederates in key and critical positions knowing that the AFC would be more inclined to nominate civilians to the said positions which the APNU has absolutely no interest in doing,” the PPP said in a statement.
The PPP also charged that a combination of militaristic approaches and the shift towards a police state would “inexorably result in the decline of freedom in Guyana.”
While in office up to one year ago, the PPPC had hired Retired Major General Joseph Singh as Personal Assistant to the President and Retired Major General, Michael Atherly as National Security Coordinator. Former GDF officer, Ronald Gajraj was also appointed Minister of Home Affairs under the PPPC administration.