PNCR’s Lethem office building needed for health facility but Forde deems demolition “declaration of war”

Last Updated on Thursday, 2 March 2023, 15:17 by Denis Chabrol

Mr Nigel Dharamlall   Mr Roysdale Forde

Even as Shadow Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs Roysdale Forde said political parties’ headquarters were untouchable, Local Government and Regional Development Minister Nigel Dharamlall said the building that housed the People’s National Congress Reform’s (PNCR) office in Lethem has been earmarked for a health care facility.

“The location of this site is slated to have a health facility to serve the people of Lethem and Region 9. Continued illegal occupation of the building has stalled the construction of the facility,” Mr Dharamlall said.

He said Regional Executive Officer of Region Nine (Upper Takatu-Upper Essequibo) Karl Singh has informed him that the materials from the PNCR’s Lethem office have been “secured and stored” at the Regional Council headquarters in Lethem.

The minister noted that several notices to vacate the premises had been issued to the PNCR but to no avail. “In the case of the building under occupation by the PNC, I have been advised that numerous efforts and notices were sent to PNC officials in Region 9 to vacate a government building which they occupied for political purposes and they have refused to do so,” Mr Dharamlall said. Opposition legislator Amanza Walton-Desir earlier Thursday said a number of notices had been issued, but PNCR General Secretary Dawn Hastings Williams said she was unaware of such.

But Mr Forde slammed the Irfaan Ali-led People’s Progressive Party Civic administration for merely giving lip service to the ‘One Guyana’ slogan by maliciously targeting its political opponents by the demolition of ordinary people’s homes in Linden and Mocha-Arcadia. He accused the PPP of provoking confrontation and unrest by now breaching the unwritten code that party offices are off-limits. “There are some established universal unwritten rules in politics guiding behaviours of political rivals. These rules are sacrosanct. Government and political parties do not attack the buildings of  their rivals. The demolition of party’s office is a declaration of war by the PPP Government on the members and supporters of the PNCR,” he said.

The PNCR and the Region Nine (Upper Takatu-Upper Essequibo) administration have both claimed ownership of the property, but Mr Forde said the core of the issue is government’s disrespect and failure to govern in keeping with established laws, protocols and principles. “It matters not whether the land on which the building was situated is owned by the state or the party,” he said.

Mr Forde condemned the demolition of the PNCR’s office in Lethem directive of Region 9 Regional Executive Officer (REO), saying it is  flagrant disregard for law and order, and a new low in political behaviour in Guyana.

The Local Government Minister noted that Auditor General’s reports have cited the “non-approved use of government buildings in the region.”

The PNCR said a number of complaints were being lodged with police and legal action loomed, in response the dismantling of the building.