PNCR insists it owns dismantled Lethem office; plans to take govt to court

Last Updated on Thursday, 2 March 2023, 14:13 by Denis Chabrol

Regional Executive Officer (Region Nine) Karl Singh (left) and PNCR representative in Region Nine, Carl Parker (green shirt).

In the wake of government’s pre-dawn dismantling of the People’s National Congress Reform’s (PNCR) office in Lethem, the party on Thursday afternoon insisted that it owns that property and was preparing to file legal action for assault, trespass, and the removal of party property

“The property is ours and we will enforce our rights in the courts,” he said. He relied on an unnamed Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) judgement to justify his opinion that the PNCR owns the property in Lethem. “Based on my understanding of the law, the party owns the property, has title and right to the property,” he said.

PNCR Region Nine representative Carl Parker said his party has been occupying the property since 1975, but Region Nine Executive Officer  Karl Parker said the property has always been in the inventory of the Region Nine (Upper Takatu-Upper Essequibo) administration. Mr Singh had said that several notices, including one by him, had been issued for the building to be vacated.

Opposition parliamentarian Amanza Walton-Desir said despite the fact that “one or two notices were sent” for the party to vacate the building in the southern Guyana town,  there was no need to take out valuable items and records in anticipation of the dismantling of the structure. “Your statement presupposes unlawful action on the part of the government…If you are proposing to impose a burden upon us to anticipate that the Irfaan Ali-led administration will be operating in such an egregious and unlawful manner, then I have to disagree,” she said.

She said the notices were not in keeping with the “proper legal process” that the government should have followed. However, PNCR General Secretary Dawn Hastings-Williams said she was unaware of any notice to vacate the Lethem office building. “I haven’t seen any document on to this date,” she said. In mid-January, 2023, the Regional Executive Officer was seen on video informing Mr Parker that he had sent three letters and had on that date had gone in person with a document showing the former that the building is on the region’s inventory.

Mr Parker earlier Thursday said the matter should have been taken to court.

The PNCR’s Lethem office after the doors, windows and roof were removed early Thursday morning, March 2, 2022.

The PNCR said among the valuables missing are the claims and objection reports of the coalition umbrella of A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) that should have been submitted on Thursday to the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM). Local Government Elections are scheduled for June 12. “We are still awaiting word from the government as to what would occasion they going in the dark of night to demolish our building, steal our records, destroy our equipment and place our ability to meet critical GECOM deadlines in jeopardy,” she said. She said there was no immediate estimate of the loss because records are missing and the party was now trying to ascertain what was stored centrally or at Lethem only.

On whether the PNCR-led APNU would be asking GECOM for more time to submit its reports, Ms Walton-Desir said party representatives were expected to later Thursday state whether they have been able to salvage any records from the rubble before engaging the electoral management authority.

Mr Wade feared that the governing People’s Progressive Party (PPP) has, through the Thursday morning dismantling of the PNCR’s Lethem office, put its hands on vital membership information which could possibly lead to political victimisation of persons whose affiliation were unknown. “We are aware how vindictive this government is and the exposure of those persons whose registrations are within the party …so now the PPP is armed with this information, we could see in the near future vindictive action against those persons but the party is always ready to stand and support anyone who is victimised by the PPP,” he said.

Attorneys-at-Law Wade and Roysdale Forde were said to have been in contact with persons who have filed reports of assault.

The PNCR said it would also be filing reports to the diplomatic community about the extra-legal eviction of the party from the office which amounted to “terrorism” against its opponent under the protection of the Guyana Police Force. The party alleged that the building’s roof, windows and doors were removed by Venezuelan migrants at about 1 AM Thursday.