Last Updated on Saturday, 11 March 2023, 18:37 by Denis Chabrol
The Working People’s Alliance (WPA) on Saturday, in a defiant stance, said the government was planning to arrest its executive member Tacuma Ogunseye for expecting the predominantly Afro-Guyanese security forces would dislodge the People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPPC) if there is a wave of protests.
“The AG’s implicit and explicit threat to take away Ogunseye’s liberty is in keeping with the government’s larger campaign of bullyism that has characterized its most recent stint in office,” the WPA said.
President Irfaan Ali and Secretary to the Defence Board Attorney General Anil Nandlall have indicated strongly that that WPA Executive member might be culpable for crimes of hate, racism, terrorism, sedition, seditious libel, inciting riotous behaviour, and treason.
But the WPA added that Mr Nandlall’s threat to lock up Mr Ogunseye was “an open attempt to once again violate the right to free speech which is expressly guaranteed by the very Guyana constitution which the AG likes to pontificate about.” That party vowed that it would not be bullied and would not defend its right to freedom of expression. “n that regard the party signals to the PPP that its reaction confirms the correctness of the party’s Civil Disobedience campaign.”
The accusations against the veteran WPA member came after he told a public meeting in Buxton, East Coast Demerara that if there is a mass uprising, the Afro-Guyanese dominated police and defence forces would side with the opposition within a short period. He has urged a boycott of the June 12, 2023 Local Government Elections and instead become “battle ready” to use the occasion as a Day of Resistance and African uprising to begin that resistance.
Amid a barrage of criticisms by Dr Ali and Mr Nandlall, the WPA said it remained in solidarity with Mr Ogunseye and his utterances remained unchanged. “WPA stands with Tacuma Ogunseye and withdraws not a single word of his statements,” that party said.
The WPA, which was part of then governing coalition of A Partnership for National Unity+Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC), described the Attorney General’s accusation of racism against Mr Ogunseye as “laughable”, alleging that since returning to power in 2020, the PPP administration has been waging “political and economic war” against Afro-Guyanese. “Mr. Nandlall’s declaration that that that charge cannot be proven demonstrates how tone-deaf and racially insensitive the PPP is.”
The Guyana government has repeatedly rejected similar claims and has instead pivoted its “One Guyana” approach to embrace all races in policy making.
While the Chairman of the Joint Services, Brigadier Godfrey Bess said earlier this week that it does not get into politics but obeys Guyana’s Constitution, the WPA accused the government of using the security forces for political ends. “Irrespective of its ethnic composition, the Joint Services of Guyana is an apolitical institution and will continue to uphold the noble position of service to the people of Guyana,” the Joint Services said in a statement.