Former President David Granger on Monday attributed the killing and mutilation of two youths at the weekend to the People’s Progressive Party’s (PPP) failure to condemn post-election unrest in West Berbice earlier this year, but President Irfaan Ali and Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo denied his claims.
“It is their attitude! If on the 6th of March, they had condemned what happened here on the West Coast Berbice- the stoning of the school buses and the vandalism that occured, this would not have occurred but they are sending a message that sort of behaviour is normal; they could do it again and again,” he said. Mr. Granger lauded the residents for sending a message that “we are not going to put up with this nonsense.”
Back in March, People’s Progressive Party supporters rioted by blocking roads with fiery debris, burnt vehicles and stoned a school bus, resulting in the injury of four students. The supporters, who had demanded that Region Four votes of the March 2, 2020 general elections be properly declared, had also chopped two policemen.
But Mr. Ali said “I condemn every single act in this country that had criminality in it” even as he recalled that he and other party supporters had gone out there and “called on the people to come off the road.”Mr. Granger has a responsibility by going there. You can either help the situation by talking to people to be lawful and respectful or you could decide to ignite the situation. For us, our focus is on reducing flames, improving relations and having a more peaceful society,” the President said.
Mr. Jagdeo added that Mr. Granger “should not be taken seriously” because from 2015 to 2019 Guyana’s international standing declined, democracy regressed, unemployment increased , the social safety was dismantled and his rhetoric was divisive. “This is a politician who has failed to do anything in five years to improve relations and Mr. Granger doesn’t read much because he were to go now to look at the party’s (PPP) Facebook page, you would see a condemnation of the bus incident on the party’s page. I personally approved that and put it on the party’s page,” the Vice President.
Mr. Granger also told the two gatherings at the homes of the now deceased youths that APNU+AFC would set up a defence society to protect residents if the police force fails to protect residents from senseless killings like those at the weekend. “We call on the government to protect us and if the government does not give us the full protection we deserve, we are going to take any reasonable measure to defend ourselves,” said Mr. Granger who is also leader of the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR). “We can’t reverse what has happened but we will do our utmost to avoid a recurrence,” he said.
Opposition Leader Joseph Harmon also announced that APNU+AFC would be assisting with funeral expenses for 18-year old Joel Henry,a labourer and 16-year old Isaiah Henry, a student of Lots 26 and 32 Number 3 Village, West Coast Berbice. He told the surviving families and residents to refuse assistance from the government.
Mr. Harmon also announced that civil court proceedings would be filed against those found guilty of murder of the Henrys some time between early Saturday morning when they left their homes to collect coconuts to sell and Sunday afternoon when their bodies were discovered by a search party.
Police have since arrested the owner of the coconut estate at Cotton Tree Village nearby where the bodies of the youths were found by a search party.