More than a month after he had been appointed the Deputy Chief-of-Staff of the Guyana Defence Force, Colonel Andrew Pompey has been off the job and well-placed sources at Camp Ayanganna said that he is in Cambodia completing a contract with the United Nations.
Pompey is one of four lieutenant colonels who were elevated to the rank of full colonel to fill the top posts in the army made vacant by President Bharrat Jagdeo’s decision to side-step three officers who were their seniors. He was called away from his appointment in Cambodia to attend an interview with Jagdeo in August, but subsequently returned after his appointment was finalised. Sources in the military said that Pompey’s absence from duty had not affected the performance of the force as other officers were carrying out his functions. Stabroek News was told that at the time of his appointment Pompey informed Jagdeo that he intended to complete his contract and time was given for him to do so.
Jagdeo in a move that angered some in the army, promoted Commander Gary Best to Commodore, and Pompey, Bruce Lovell and Mark Phillips to substantive colonels. Pompey replaced Paul as the Deputy Chief-of-Staff; Bruce Lovell moved to Colonel, General Staff and Mark Phillips now heads the force administration. The promotion of the officers meant that Paul was overlooked to replace Collins, while Colonels Linden Ross, Frank Bishpam and Gordon Benn were superseded.
The four men were offered secondments to the public service but so far only Ross has taken up the offer at the Carifesta Secretariat. At present Paul, Bishpam and Benn are on leave, and according to reports the men are unlikely to take up the offers.
At a conference in August Jagdeo defended his decision saying he had acted in accordance with the Defence Act which gave him the authority to appoint the Chief-of-Staff. He described the elevated officers as members of a new team which he said would lead the army into the future. He said that they were bright and well respected.
Pompey had taken a year of no-pay leave July last year to take up the appointment with the UN. He was given an extension of his contract and opted to resign from the military, but Jagdeo persuaded him stay on offering him the Deputy Chief-of-Staff position. Critics of Jagdeo’s decision to promote the officers said that the Head of State had showed desperation in appointing Pompey. “The man had virtually left the job and he called him back,” the sources who wished to remain anonymous said. It is not clear when the current contract Pompey holds with the UN will expire.
Pompey, 46, was commissioned as an officer in 1981 and completed the Command and General Officer Staff Course in the US; he holds a Master’s Degree in Human Resource Development from Webster University in the USA. He also holds a social science degree from the University of Guyana.
He has served the army in several departments and was last attached as the Com-mand-ing Officer of the Coast Guard, before he was relieved of duties to head the army’s investigation into the theft of the 30 AK-47 rifles and five pistols from the military’s main base last year February. Sources in the military had told this newspaper that the administration had accused several high-ranking GDF officers of conspiring with the gunmen in Buxton to overthrow the PPP/C government, which led to the theft of the weapons. The source had said that at least one senior government official advanced the conspiracy theory to a high-level security meeting last year.