Norton says will block Hicken’s confirmation as Police Commissioner

Last Updated on Sunday, 19 February 2023, 20:55 by Denis Chabrol

Acting Commissioner of Police Clifton Hicken.

Opposition Leader Aubrey Norton on Sunday night ruled out supporting acting Police Commissioner Clifton Hicken to be appointed substantively to that post whenever President Irfaan Ali seeks constitutionally required consultations.

“The President could possibly go ahead and keep extending him because he meet retirement time. You know when you got a tool that working good for you, you don’t want get rid of it but I’ll say this, they will never ever get the consent of the opposition to appoint Clifton Hicken (as) Commissioner,”

Mr Norton’s announcement at an A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) public meeting at East Ruimveldt Police Outpost area is believed to be the first time that he has made his position known publicly.

Under Guyana’s Constitution, the President must hold meaningful consultations with the Opposition Leader in the hope of securing support for his candidate for the post of Police Commissioner. However, if the Opposition Leader withholds his support, the President would either  appoint or retain his preferred choice as acting Police Commissioner.

The Opposition Leader indicated his continued displeasure with Mr Hicken, who was the Divisional Commander in July 2012, when three Lindeners were shot and killed during a protest against the then People’s Progressive Party Civic-led government’s reduction of a multimillion dollar annual electricity subsidy that would have seen consumers paying higher electricity bills. “Linden people had to ask for him to be removed,” Mr Norton remarked.

Home Affairs Minister Robeson Benn in early February, 2023 suggested strongly that Mr Hicken’s tenure would be extended beyond his retirement age of 55 on July 22, 2023. I think he is performing quite well,” he had said. When asked  then whether Mr Hicken’s contract would be extended, Mr Benn had said, “all things are possible.” The Home Affairs Minister highlighted that in 2022 for the first time, serious crimes have plummeted by 19 percent. “We have had year-on-year almost 20 percent reduction serious crimes in Guyana; 20 percent reduction and those are dramatic moves, positive moves in respect of crime fighting in the country in spite of all the other difficulties we have had so I am sure we would want to go with what is good, that and who is performing,” he said.

Mr Hicken was appointed Acting Police Commissioner in March, 2022 after then acting Police Commissioner Nigel Hoppie proceeded on pre-retirement leave in March.

The Opposition Leader chastised the political administration for preventing a number of senior officers from studying and getting rid of others who had pursued studies on their own.