Office of the President (OP) Press and Publicity Officer Kwame Mc Coy called in a security officer during yesterday’s weekly post-cabinet press briefing, after an intense verbal exchange between a reporter and members of the head table.
McCoy was at the time moderating the briefing at which Cabinet Secretary Dr Roger Luncheon and Education Minister Shaik Baksh made presentations. OP, in a statement issued last evening, said that the security personnel was summoned as a precautionary measure after Kaieteur News reporter Neil Marks “took it upon himself to be obstructive, rude and overtly antagonistic” in his questions. Marks was questioning Baksh about the Education Ministry’s acquisition of computers.
“After several warnings on no less than five occasions, Mr. Marks’ behavior did not abate and the security personnel was summoned as a precautionary measure in keeping with Office of the President’s standing operating procedures,” the statement said.
“The moderator’s action resulted from his several interjections while others were speaking, including Head of the Presidential Secretariat Dr Roger Luncheon and the Minister of Education Hon. Shaik Baksh and his colleague reporters,” it said.
The Guyana Press Association (GPA) in a press release said it was appalled that OP resorted to intimidating tactics at a press conference hosted by state officials.
According to the GPA, the tactics of the use of a presidential guard are “scary and an ominous” sign of things to come. “It is particularly disturbing when the Government of democratic Guyana and the ruling party the PPP have dubbed certain sections of the Guyanese media as ‘hostile media,’” it noted. The GPA said that even if the reporter appeared to have been intemperate in his interventions, today’s [yesterday’s] resort to having security summoned was a gross overreaction,” the GPA said.
“It is becoming clearer that in this election year the ruling party, the PPP and the Government are both becoming hostile to the private media with their onslaught of falsehood and accusations of imbalance. The GPA rejects this latest attack on local journalists as outlandish and despicable,” the statement said.