PNCR reoccupies building in Lethem; Dharamlall says govt “will not be bullied”

Last Updated on Saturday, 4 March 2023, 21:57 by Denis Chabrol

PNCR members meeting inside the Lethem building that was partly dismantled earlier this week by government.

The People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) on Saturday reoccupied the partly dismantled building that  has housed its office in Lethem, Region Nine (Upper Takatu-Upper Essequibo) since 1975, but Minister of Local Government and Regional Development Nigel Dharamlall signaled that tough action would be taken against trespassers on State property.

“This government will not be bullied by the PNC into condoning its historical and contemporary illegalities. And we are unequivocal about that,” he told Demerara Waves Online News.
The PNCR said the decision by its Central Executive on Friday to “reoccupy and reclaim” the building was implemented by its General Secretary Dawn Hastings-Williams and Attorney-at-Law Darren Wade. “Together, with local party leadership and members, she oversaw the reoccupation and reclaiming of the PNCR Lethem Office,” the PNCR said.
Government has promised to approve land for the PNCR to build an office in Lethem if an application is made.

According to the PNCR, party members also began to reconstruct the building where the damage was done. The Regional administration had said the building was part of its inventory and it was needed to build a health facility.
In evicting the PNCR from the building, the windows, doors and roof were removed by the Region Nine administration after three notices were sent to the then General Secretaries Amna Ally and Geeta Chandan-Edmond.
PNCR Leader Aubrey Norton on Saturday told Demerara Waves Online News that while Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo referred to the three letters, he did not say that a response was sent stating that the building is the PNCR’s. “What Bharrat Jagdeo didn’t say is that in our response, a lawyer’s letter was sent that we are in possession of it and we consider it our property…When I became leader, a letter came and we responded to that letter,” Mr Norton said.
Pressed on whether the PNCR had legal documents to prove ownership, he opted to say “as far as I know the party has always exercised ownership over the property.” He said at no stage was the issue whether or not his party had legal documents and even if it did not, there was no justifiable reason to dismantle the building to force the party out. “The issue is should the law be followed or the PPP has the right to go and destroy a building? The answer to that is that they have no right,” he said.

The PNCR Leader rejected Vice President Jagdeo’s denial that the governing People’s Progressive Party or the government did not instruct the eviction of the PNCR from the Lethem building.
Local Government Minister Dharamlall said the PNCR’s reoccupation of the building amounted to “trespassing on property which belongs to the State and not to PNC.” “It is high-handed and indicative of the modus operandi of the PNC which is to commandeer state resources for party aggrandizement…party paramountcy.”
Mr Dharamlall said the PPPC adheres and conforms to good governance while the PNCR-led opposition coalition of A Partnership for National Unity+Alliance For Change is characterized by alleged illegality, unlawful conduct, racist tendencies, and obscene corruption in national life.