Opposition party AFC yesterday criticised President Donald Ramotar’s “open letter” to Lindeners appealing for a halt to their protest, warning that his medium and message could make things worse.
AFC Vice-Chairman Moses Nagamootoo told a news conference that Ramotar’s open letter could help “to expand the area of conflict,” especially with his referring to Lindeners as “extremists.”
“His open letter could help to expand the area of conflict…” Nagamootoo said, while adding that it would have best been read in Linden. “He didn’t have to resort to letter writing. This is not a love affair; this is not dear Jane and John, this is a political engagement that requires his presence there,” he added, referencing the president’s failure to visit the community more than three weeks after the start of the protest was marred by the death of three men and the injury of several others, after police opened fire on protestors.
Nagamootoo urged that Ramotar interface with Lindeners soon, since the longer he takes, the more the toll will be on the country.
Ramotar, who postponed a planned trip to the area due to several blocked roads, on Tuesday released an open letter to Lindeners, in which he called for an end to the protest, noting that the future of the community was being harmed and that they were being led astray by “extremists.”
“Linden as a destination for future investments is being harmed by what is taking place at present. These actions must be halted before they inflict further harm to the future development of Linden,” the president said, while urging a restoration to normalcy in the town.
Nagamootoo also said that Ramotar seems to be sending mixed signals, since at one time he tells the public that the Linden electricity hike is on hold and another time he says that everyone must pay.
Meanwhile, AFC Chair-man Nigel Hughes criticised the apparent sloth in the police probe into the July 18 fatal shooting of the three Linden protestors—Ron Somerset, Shemroy Bouyea and Allan Wilson—while saying that the party does not hold much hope for a United Kingdom-based ballistics expert coming here to assist.
“We are concerned that we are heading into the end of the third week and they have not yet moved to the stage of an arrest… that the officers who were involved in that event are still in [the] force, they have not been interdicted and they continue to serve,” Hughes said at the news conference.
He added that his party is also frustrated at the lengthy time the United Kingdom ballistic expert has to wait in obtaining his work permit and that the AFC will not bring him to Guyana at the party’s expense because of the bureaucracy entailed in possibly obtaining his work permit only on arrival in Guyana.
“Up to today’s date, the ballistics expert who the AFC has invited… has not yet gotten a work permit … we continue to be frustrated in our efforts to have him come,” he added, in reference to United Kingdom firearm expert Dr Mark Robinson, who the party asked to travel to Guyana to observe ballistics tests on fragments and bullets recovered from the Linden shooting and to conduct his own independent tests.
Hughes explained that the granting of work permits “in the best of circumstances” takes three to four weeks and that from the onset, he had explained to both the Crime Chief Seelall Persaud and the Commissioner of Police Leroy Brumell that the AFC was not asking of the expert to come to work but to observe.
Adamant in their position, they stated that he nonetheless needed a work permit and Hughes said from then the process has been laborious, from the constant taking back and forth of documents to now hearing that Robinson has to be in Guyana before the permit could be issued. “I don’t wish to be in the embarrassing position of having invited an expert to the country and then they say he is coming without a work permit and put him in a difficult position… so he doesn’t embarrass the AFC and the AFC doesn’t cause him to be embarrassed, Hughes said. “To have him sit in a hotel and wait and then the same minister, who is under a cloud, will actually approve a work permit I don’t think would be prudent,” he added.