The Ministry of the Presidency on Friday accused Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo and People’s Progressive Party (PPP) presidential candidate, Irfaan Ali of inciting violence against President David Granger and government ministers, actions the government deemed as intolerable “hooliganism and thuggery”.
“Peaceful and civilised protest action is common in any democracy, but it becomes a sign of worry when a Presidential Candidate and a former President, who is a constitutional office holder, seek [sic] to incite violence against the sitting Head of State and Ministers of the Government, during the execution of their official duties,” the Ministry of the Presidency said in a statement.
Against the background of threats by Jagdeo to continue targeting Granger with peaceful protests wherever he goes, government vowed that such actions would not be tolerated.
The Ministry of the Presidency says it has taken note of the hooliganism and thuggery displayed by the Opposition PPP and its supporters and associates, on Thursday, September 19, outside and inside the Pegasus Hotel, where President David Granger was the guest speaker at the annual Guyana Manufacturing and Services Association’s business luncheon.
The Ministry of the Presidency hinted that security for government ministers and the President would be beefed up. “The President assures all Guyanese that every lawful measure will be taken to guarantee the safety of Ministers of Government and to prevent a breakdown of law and order in the country. The Opposition’s undemocratic behaviour and its continuous threats to peace and stability, has no place in this society and will not be tolerated,” the statement added.
Riot police, equipped with shields and batons, were deployed outside the Pegasus Hotel where Public Infrastructure Minister, David Patterson and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Karen Cummings were blocked and chased by People’s Progressive Party (PPP) supporters when they attempted to enter the Pegasus Hotel compound for a Business Luncheon organised by the Guyana Manufacturers and Services Association (GMSA).
“Holding the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Karen Cummings hostage in her vehicle for over half an hour and blocking the smooth ingress of Minister of Public Infrastructure, Mr. David Patterson, all while hurling threatening and foul remarks, are entirely unacceptable and should also be condemned by all right-thinking Guyanese,” the Ministry of the Presidency said.
Inside the Pegasus Hotel, the President’s speech to the luncheon was disrupted by chanting PPP supporters that the government is “illegal”.
“The lawlessness exhibited is not akin to a democratic political protest, but rather was a display of gross disrespect for the President, his Office, the Government and the occasion that was being held at the time,” the government said.
The intensified protests by the PPP came the same day the United States, United Kingdom and the European Union jointly stated that the David Granger-led administration breached the constitution by not paving the way for general elections to be held before September 18. In its current state, the diplomatic missions said it would be difficult for assistance to be provided to Guyana.
“We deeply regret that, by surpassing September 18, the Government is currently in breach of the Constitution following its failure to adhere to the decisions of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) on 18 June and its subsequent orders. This situation comes at great cost to the people of Guyana.
The prevailing political uncertainty undermines Guyanese institutions, compromises economic opportunities and delays development across all areas including infrastructure, education, health, and social services. It also hinders our ability to support Guyana’s development needs.,” they said in a joint statement,” the envoys here said.
Canada did not enjoin them in that statement.
The President reportedly says he is committed to holding credible elections in the earliest time possible, in keeping with the provisions of the Constitution and based on the guidance given by the Guyana Elections Commission.
Before resuming his address at the luncheon, the President indicated that protests such as the one he was subjected to could have a ripple effect. “I hope that the intellectual authors of the disorder would be able to stop what they have started.”
Jagdeo interpreted Granger’s remark as a threat but he said he was not bothered by it and that the President would continue to be a target of peaceful protests wherever he goes. “I think he meant it as a threat but we’re not worried about your threats, Granger. Let me make that clear. We are not an illegal about an illegal caretaker President who is squatting in office so I don’t give a damn about your threat,” he said.
“We are never going to get into violent protests that will harm innocent people and ordinary Guyanese people…but we will target the person who is acting illegally and so Granger , wherever he shows up, wherever he goes he is going to be met with protests that will point out and disruptions that will say to him… that ‘we are not going to be violent but will not tolerate dictatorship in this country’,” he said.