Several board members of the Guyana National Newspapers Limited-publishers of the Guyana Chronicle newspapers- on Tuesday resigned, weeks after the controversial to oust two columnists from that government-controlled newspaper, sources said.
Those who resigned one day before the company’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) were Tabita Sarabo-Halley, Bert Wilkinson, and Karen Davis. Ruel Johnson said he plans to submit his resignation on Wednesday at the AGM.
Sarabo-Halley said her decision stemmed from the fact that five other board members voted in favour of the removal of the columns, “Hinds Sight” by Professor David Hinds and “Eye on Guyana” by trade unionist, Lincoln Lewis.
Sarabo-Halley told Chairwoman of the GNNL Board of Directors, Geeta Chandan-Edmond that she viewed the decision to shut out the columns by the two pro-government supporters as a violation of their human right.
“While I do respect the right of each member of the board to determine from their perspective what is in the best interest of the company, I cannot continue to be apart of any organization that seeks to limit the rights and freedom of others,” she said in her resignation letter seen by Demerara Waves Online News.
She suggested strongly that the decision by the one-member majority to stop publishing the columns appeared to have been politically driven. “Further, the perception that the organization would be seen as one wherein the ultimate decisions are made for and about the organization at levels that appear to override the authority of the board is also something that I cannot continue to be apart of,” she said.
Johnson said he felt committed to completing a concept note on the way forward for the Guyana Chronicle before submitting his resignation, effective April 1, 2018, to the Prime Minister. “It’s a done deal,” he told Demerara Waves Online News.
He said he had already told the Board at the last meeting at which Editor-in-Chief, Nigel Williams’ decision to remove the columnists was affirmed that he would have resigned. That was not the remit of the Editor-in-Chief.. That is a policy direction has to come from the Board. The affirmation of the flawed decision by the Board is another flawed decision,” he said.
Minister of State, Joseph Harmon has already said there was no room for government to persuade the Board of Directors to reverse its decision. He has also denied that the political executive had any role to play in the removal of the columnists.
However, well-placed sources have told Demerara Waves have told Demerara Waves Online News that there had been serious concerns among several influential Cabinet members about the harshly critical columns by Hinds and Lewis.