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Govt hires more security personnel for govt buildings, cites APNU+AFC threats

Last Updated on Friday, 17 December 2021, 7:20 by Denis Chabrol

Local Government Minister Nigel Dharamlall says security has been beefed up at all government buildings in Guyana’s 10 administrative regions because of political threats by the opposition.

In clear reference to the severe damage by fire of the Mabaruma Secondary School earlier this year due to reported arson, he said that many more guards have been hired due to utterances by the opposition A Partnership for National Unity+Alliance For Change.

“We have found threats on public installations so we have to make sure that all our installations in every region- and I’m going to repeat this for every question you ask in all ten regions- we have to protect the government’s installations from the APNU+AFC’s threats and their activists’ threats on the installations of our country,” he said.

The Brickdam Police Station was this year destroyed by fire and weeks later a building housing the headquarters of the Guyana Police Force’s Office of Professional Responsibility and the Director of Public Prosecutors Chambers was badly damaged. 

Mr. Dharamlall refused to say how many security personnel had been hired before, instead asking government parliamentarians to check the 2021 National Budget.

Opposition parliamentarian Lenox Shuman asked the Local Government Minister to justify the need to hire more security guards if the Home Affairs Minister, Robeson Benn has said that there has been a reduction in crime but Mr. Dharamlall refused and declared him “out of order.” 

“If your Cabinet colleague is saying that crime is on the decrease and it has dropped by over 20 percent, why are we expending so much more money for security at this juncture?,” asked Mr. Shuman who has been in public spats with the coalition in recent weeks. “Mr. Shuman is asking me a statement about the Minister of Home Affairs. I believe that Mr. Shuman is out of order to ask me a question that the Minister of Home Affairs pronounced on…Insofar as I’m aware you’re out of order to ask me that question,” he said.

Neither the police force nor the fire service has stated whether there has been any political linkage in the fires. No one from the opposition has been charged with the major fires at public buildings this year.

House Speaker Manzoor Nadir turned down a request by Opposition Chief Whip, Christopher Jones for references to the opposition be expunged from the records. However, Mr. Nadir, at that juncture, stated that the reference could be the opposition inside or outside the House.