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“We are not on a witch-hunt”-Irfaan Ali; political appointees “will have to face the music”- Juan Edghill

People’s Progressive Party Civic presidential candidate, Irfaan Ali addressing the launch of his party’s 2020 general election campaign at the Kitty Market Square, Georgetown.

The People’s Progressive Party (PPP) is assuring that Police Commissioner and other top officers would not be fired should that party be officially declared winner of the March 2, 2020 general and regional elections.

PPP presidential candidate, Dr. Irfaan Ali, speaking with reporters, assured that government employees would not be targeted if he and his political organisation are declared the winner of the March 2, 2020 general elections by the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM).

“We are not on a witch-hunt.  We are not on any witch-hunting exercise. Let me make that very clear. We are going to act professionally. The Commissioner and his team have assured us that they would act professionally, they would continue to act professionally.  We hold the Commissioner to his commitment but we are not on witch-hunting exercise firing people and so,” Ali said on Wednesday when asked whether he would like to  see Police Commissioner, Leslie James leave the job.

Constitutionally, the Police Commissioner is not appointed by the Police Service Commission, but by the President.

Ally maintained that the Police Commissioner needs to examine his database of returning Guyanese as it might be “flawed” as he had provided inaccurate information to the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) about whether more than 100 persons had been in Guyana on election day, March 2, 2020.

Ally’s assurances contrast strikingly with utterances by Juan Edghill, a vocal former People’s Progressive Party (PPP) parliamentarian and one-time prime ministerial candidate hopeful, who earlier this week even went as far as targeting the recent appointment of  Professor Paloma Mohammed-Martin as Vice Chancellor of the University of Guyana. “This (Tuesday) morning we all woke up to  the news that there is a new Vice Chancellor at the University of Guyana. Strange but we woke up to that news and that’s the reality,” he said.

The publicly-funded University of Guyana is legally governed by a Council, not central government.

Former PPPC Shadow Public Infrastructure Minister, Juan Edghill (file picture)

Edghill said public servants and heads of budget agencies would not be sanctioned. “You have nothing to fear with a PPPC administration,” referring to the PPPC’s 23 years in office when their jobs were secured,  and were awarded scholarships and received retirement benefits and gratuities. “We are coming in now and we will behave responsibly again.

Edghill, however, issued a stern warning to political appointees and he called on them to resign immediately. “The political types, the political appointees, the political hacks that went into these ministries in their droves and suppressed the professionalism of the public service and made the public service incapacitated and handicapped because of political control, you should all do the decent thing and resign before the new government comes into office,” he said.

He also cautioned those who are already contending that a new PPPC administration cannot “come after me” because they have legal employment and infrastructural contracts that those would reviewed because those were signed with a government lost a no-confidence motion and the general elections. “Let me put all those who have contracts signed today and yesterday and last week – let me put all of them on notice: You should have known that you should not have been signing no contract with a defeated government, with a government that is not properly in place and are caretakers and you will have to face the consequences and you will have to face the music,” he said. Edghill said those contractors could not be guaranteed because “everything that was awarded”  including after employment contracts after the no-confidence motion, dissolution of Parliament and general elections because “that is not how democracies operate.” He advised them to scrap those employment contracts.

Edghill, a former Junior Finance Minister, said ministers would review every contracts and decisions made by accounting officers from December 2018 when the no-confidence motion was passed through to elections and until the election results are declared, expectedly, in June, 2020. “We will have to determine what will be allowed and will be disallowed because illegality cannot stand and illegality should not be allowed to continue unchecked,” he said.

He warned public servants  against taking instructions from members of the outgoing administration would be illegal.

The PPP, while in office, had been accused of discrimination mainly against Afro-Guyanese who make up the bulk of the public service.