Region Five Chairman Vickchand Ramphal says despite the need for emergency responses, the regional administration is not meeting due to a continuing protest by APNU+AFC councillors who want him to publicly apologise over a perceived slight to the president.
A Regional Democratic Council (RDC) meeting that was supposed to be held yesterday was disrupted by APNU+AFC councillors.
The disruption of meetings began after President David Granger on January 15 presented two 30-seater bus for school children to the Region Five RDC. Ramphal was absent and the councillors have said that by not attending he was “disrespectful” to the president. The chairman, however, has said that he was not invited to attend the event.
“I would like to say to the people of Region Five: because of the behaviour of the APNU+AFC councillors, you are being affected tremendously by the different problems that are facing the region,” Ramphal yesterday told Stabroek News.
He said when he arrived at the region’s boardroom for the meeting, he saw two APNU+AFC Councillors seated in his seat and that of the Vice Chairman, Rion Peters.
According to Ramphal he did not let this affect him as he sat in a different seat and called the meeting to order. “The meeting was called to order by myself but because of the disruption by the APNU+AFC councillors I was forced to adjourn the meeting to a later date,” he said.
Ramphal emphasised that due to heavy rainfall, some areas have been affected while other areas are under threat in the region. “We cannot meet at the council level to make solid decisions on emergency work and other works that needs to be done so as to bring relief to the people,” he stated, while adding that there are also other issues that need to be dealt with immediately or the region will suffer tremendously.
He called on the government to speak with its councillors, while highlighting that if developmental work does not continue in the region, it will not only affect Region Five but the country as a whole. “I would like to call on the government, [and] the APNU+AFC councillors to come on board let us work in unity for Region Five and Guyana as a whole,” he said.
However, Dolston Hutson, APNU+AFC Councillor, speaking from the Regional Chairman’s seat, stated that nothing will change until Ramphal issues an apology to the president. “I believe that the chairman can do that but his advisers would not allow him to. What I want to let the chairman know is that his advisers are setting him up for failure”, he said. “He may go down in history as the worst chairman of Region Five,” Hutson added.
When asked why he was seated in the Chairman’s seat, Hutson said, “I am sitting here because we do not recognise him as Chairman of the Region.” “This will become my permanent position until Mr Vickchand Ramphal decides to respect Mr Granger and then he can again hold this seat within the RDC chambers,” he added.
Hutson also argued that the region’s work is not at a standstill since approximately 61 contracts are about to be awarded in the region. “We will continue to progress because we are in government at the central level,” he said
After the meeting was adjourned, PPP/C councillors stood on the veranda of the building, while APNU+AFC councillors sat inside the boardroom, where they sang hymns and prayed.
The region’s statutory meeting in April saw a protest by the APNU+AFC councillors and scores of supporters. One councillor even threw herself in front of Ramphal’s vehicle in an effort to stop him from entering the compound of the regional office, while PPP/C supporters held a counter protest in support of the Chairman.