The opposition is unlikely to support the security sector strategies announced by Minister of Home Affairs Clement Rohee while he continues to hold the reins of the ministry.
Asked whether the opposition would be supporting the raft of programmes that the Ministry of Home Affairs is engaging in for the immediate and foreseeable future, Opposition Leader David Granger said that the minister’s presentation was unimpressive and would not be supported.
Minister Rohee on Monday announced plans under government’s Public Safety and Security Strategy, including major reforms of the disciplined services. In particular, he said reform of the police force would start this year, with civilian oversight of the implementation of a five-year strategy that emphasises more training. He also signalled the possible hiring of foreign police officers to serve as consultants for reorganisation of the force.
But Granger said that many of the things the minister spoke about had been suggested or spoken of years ago and he cited the creation of an air wing for the Guyana Police Force as an example. He added that it is foolhardy for the minister to believe that he could start such a unit with totally fresh personnel.
“It is very unimpressive,” said Granger. “The introduction of an air wing for the police was spoken of by Ronald Gajraj 10 years ago. The splitting of E and F Division was a suggestion that several persons made,” he said. “It is nothing new,” he added.
He noted that the minister, in defence of his stewardship of the security sector in Guyana, spoke of a reduction in traffic accidents. “But he didn’t speak of the gun, running and narco-trafficking, trafficking in persons and [other serious crimes],” he said.
Granger also noted that the Capita-Symonds consultancy report is something that the Minister had for the last 22 months, since the study was completed in March 2011.
However, not having seen the report, Granger said that he is not in a position to speak definitively on it.
“The minister does not have a serious intention to fight crime. People were expecting major change,” he said.
And AFC leader Khemraj Ramjattan said that although his party is supportive of the raft of changes to the security apparatus of the country, it will not be supporting the strategy while Rohee is at the helm.
“We are supportive of the strategy but we are not going to support it if it is going to be implemented under the leadership of Minister Rohee. That would mean that we are reneging on the motion [of no-confidence] passed in Parliament,” Ramjattan explained.
“Further, I believe the plan was completed in 2010 and he did not make it public,” he said. “This means that he was only using it to give himself relevance. We are not going to fall for that,” he added.
He pointed out that in the early 1990s, he and others wanted an arrangement where civilians would have oversight of the police. “But then Minister of Home Affairs Feroze Mohamed was angry with me,” said Ramjattan in reference to a period when he was a member of the PPP/C. “We waited 20 years for this when I was telling them since then,” he said.
The combined opposition, having passed a motion in the National Assembly against Rohee, citing no-confidence in him, has held fast to their resolve not to recognise him as minister.