Region Four PPP/C councillors again yesterday accused Regional Chairman Clement Corlette of dictatorship-style leadership after he ordered an NCN cameraman to leave the afternoon’s statutory meeting.
Labelling Corlette’s action as a suppression of the press, PPP/C councillor Kwame McKoy at a press conference yesterday said it is believed that the only reason the cameraman was ordered to leave by Corlette was because of the media house he represented.
He said as a result of Corlette’s decision and the fact that he did not want to deal with the issue in a “definitive” manner, which would have seen councillors voting on the issue of press coverage of the meetings, the PPP/C councillors walked out.
However, when contacted yesterday afternoon Corlette told Stabroek News that he told the cameraman to leave because he had refused to identify himself. He said that Mc Koy arrived late at the meeting and shortly after his entrance the cameraman came in and started to set up his equipment. He said he asked the cameraman who had invited him and who he represented since he was not wearing a media ID badge but he got no answer.
“I thought it could be Mr Mc Koy’s personal cameraman,” Corlette said, adding that at no time was he told that the person was from NCN. He said after the young man refused to identify himself he told him that he would not be allowed to film any of the proceedings and asked him to leave. Corlette said that had the cameraman properly identified himself or answered when he questioned him he would not have been ordered to leave.
He however acknowledged that the press is free to cover the meetings and noted that he even extends invitations to the media through the regional information officer but added there was no such invitation for yesterday’s meeting.
He said after he told the cameraman he had to leave McKoy got up and “spoke at length and I was willing to entertain the issue and further discuss it but then they said they were leaving and McKoy told the other councillors they had to leave and some left reluctantly.”
Corlette said that he is disappointed that vice-chairman Mohamed Khan also left the meeting.
At the press conference Khan said he was supportive of the councillors leaving the meeting because of what he referred to as Corlette’s dictatorship which he said cannot be allowed to continue since the functioning of the council was being threatened.
Mc Koy yesterday said Corlette has in the past allowed even the PNCR’s cameraman to cover the meetings, a charge Corlette denied, so he did not understand why he had ordered the NCN employee out. He pointed out that the press generally covers statutory meetings not only in Guyana but around the world and contended that his party had “fought for press freedom” and so the councillors could not allow Corlette’s behaviour to go unchallenged.
According to Mc Koy once a decision does not find favour with Corlette or it does not coincide with his views he attempts to suppress it.
“We have got to ensure that Corlette does not continue to get away with this [attitude]…“We have had to deal with the petty personality issues coming from and staged by the chair himself. The officers of this region continue to have a concern about Corlette’s attempt to usurp the functions and office of the region,” he added.
He accused Corlette of wanting to be involved in all aspects of the council’s administration and said that in the process he frustrates the employees and everything ends up being a “petty forum.” According to McKoy, Corlette has a “very poor leadership style” and is not in sync with regional governance and that is why there is so much confusion in the regional affairs.
Other PPP/C councillors who were also at the press conference spoke out against Corlette and referred to the issue last year when he ruled that councillors must submit the list of issues they want to speak on before meetings commence.
The PPP/C councillors and Corlette have been at loggerheads for quite sometime and it is not the first time they chose to walk out of a meeting to protest a ruling by the chairman.